Politics often produces strange bedfellows. But yesterday, on the 55th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision that integrated the nation’s schools, when former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich shared the stage at a boisterous rally in front of the White House with the Rev. Al Sharpton, even Gingrich called the two the “Original Odd Couple.”
What unites the conservative Gingrich and the liberal Sharpton, Gingrich said, is the urgent mission to close the persistent achievement gap that divides students along racial and socioeconomic lines and to make educational equality the civil rights issue of the 21st century.
“I know it’s possible to educate every child from every background,” Gingrich said to loud applause from the largely African American crowd that had come to Washington in 70 buses from 22 cities. “We’re not telling you what the answer is. But we’re telling you to keep changing until you find a solution.”