Sep 19, 2022 • 1HR 9M

John McWhorter & Ian Rowe – F.R.E.E. Agency

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Glenn Loury
Weekly conversations on race, inequality, and more, with Glenn Loury. Bi-weekly appearances by John McWhorter.
Episode details

This week, John McWhorter and I welcome special guest Ian Rowe to TGS. Ian is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the founder and CEO of Vertex Enterprise Academies, and author of the new book Agency: The Four Point Plan (F.R.E.E.) for ALL Children to Overcome the Victimhood Narrative and Discover Their Pathway to Power. Ian is doing outstanding work establishing charter schools throughout New York City, so John and I invited him on to discuss his efforts, among other topics.

We begin by discussing how the Rodney King beating and the LA riots that followed the acquittal of the officers involved led Ian and Nique Fajors to make a documentary, which, decades later, developed into their podcast Invisible Men. Ian thinks that two related and competing narratives—“blame the system” and “blame the victim”—place pressure on black teens and young men, and his work at the Vertex Enterprise Academies’ charter schools tries to help them grow in another direction. Ian stresses marriage as a central component in long-term success, but I push him to explain how marriage can correct for dysfunctional patterns present in husband and wife that have been present since childhood. John introduces the issue of academic success and “acting white”—can Ian’s schools overcome cultural barriers to black academic excellence? Ian then talks more generally about the ins and outs of running a group of charter schools in New York and their recent legal victory over a teacher’s union that tried to block their funding. And finally, we talk about the recent Old Parkland Conference, which Ian and I had a hand in organizing. He’s got some exciting things planned for the next phase in that project.

Ian is out there on the front lines of education reform. It’s heartening to see someone with his intelligence and drive fighting the good fight. I’m very much looking forward to your comments on this one.

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0:00 How Rodney King led to Ian’s podcast, Invisible Men

7:31 Blaming the system and blaming the victim

13:20 Ian: I run schools to show my students they can do hard things

17:16 What’s so special about marriage?

29:24 Glenn: Right living is its own reward

41:34 The problem of success and “blackness”

40:26 Ian’s experience running Vertex

45:41 How Ian funds his schools

55:46 The bureaucratic opposition to charter schools

58:47 What comes after the Old Parkland Conference?

Links and Readings

Ian’s book, Agency: The Four Point Plan (F.R.E.E.) for ALL Children to Overcome the Victimhood Narrative and Discover Their Pathway to Power

Ian’s charter school group, Vertex Partnership Academies

Ian and Nique Fajors’s podcast, The Invisible Men

Ian and Naomi Schaefer Riley’s podcast, Are You Kidding Me?

Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell speak at the 1980 Fairmont Conference

Video from the Old Parkland Conference 

Glenn, Ian, and Robert Woodson’s appearance on Peter Robinson’s Uncommon Knowledge