Meet a School Principal Practicing What Bill Cosby Preaches

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," June 15, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Actor, comedian and activist Bill Cosby has been sharply criticized over the years for his criticism of African-Americans. Cosby has encouraged a more proactive effort from the black community to create more opportunities for young African-Americans.

Joining us now, a man who is living by Bill Cosby's words, the author of "Man Up!" and the principal of the Connecticut Capital Preparatory Magnet Schools, Steve Perry.

Some fascinating stuff in this book. And I guess some people consider it controversial, when you talk about two types of boys become thugs, followers and quitters. Two types.

STEVE PERRY, PRINCIPAL, CONNECTICUT MAGNET SCHOOL: Right, two types of boys become thugs. Because what happens is when a boy gives up on himself, he's got to find a way to overcompensate for what it is that he hasn't done. So you have followers. Right?


PERRY: And those are the ones who do what everyone else does.

And then you have quitters. Some kids are bright enough to do well. But for whatever reason doing well isn't cool.

COLMES: Right.

PERRY: Doing well isn't hard enough. It's not black enough.

COLMES: So they purposely under perform.

PERRY: They under perform. I've had a student come to me, and we asked him — there were four of us, four teachers around him — and I asked him, do you really not answer questions in class because you think your friends will make fun of you? He said yes.

COLMES: You also talk about how some African-Americans have someone in their life that reaffirms that being bad is good.

PERRY: No question. No question. I mean, one of the things that we so often do is when a young woman is asked or a young man is asked, well, how is your 2-year-old son, "Bad as hell."

COLMES: And that's supposed to be a commitment.

PERRY: It's a compliment.

COLMES: Are African-Americans better off in largely African-American schools? Is that a better affirming process for African-Americans?

PERRY: They're better off in good schools.

COLMES: Doesn't matter what the racial makeup of the schools is?

PERRY: Schools don't care what color you are. Students want good teachers. They want hard-working people, people that are going to give them everything they've got. People who at the end of the day are going to leave it all in the building.

COLMES: Your school is integrated but mostly African-American.

PERRY: Yes. Yes.

COLMES: Some will say it's good for African-Americans to have African-American role models, and that could be a good thing, all the arguments about segregation, integration, notwithstanding.

PERRY: I think that, again, good schools. Good schools create good students. And good students turn into better citizens.

COLMES: You say that too many people commit to personifying ignorance, and that's just as racist as a white person who is saying blacks are dumb.

PERRY: One of the things I talk about in Vibe and The Source and XXL, and others, and if you rip the cover off of it and you put TIME magazine's cover on it or any other mainstream white media cover on it and then you send it out, people will be in the streets. They will be picketing. They'll be saying down with this. And one after another they would say there's something wrong.

Exporting negative images is a problem. And that's one of the things that Cosby says.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Let me tell you something, I love your book. I love what Dr. Cosby is saying. This is a hard-hitting, straightforward, in your face, get your act together book. I love it.

You've got a school. You're a principal. Parents are fighting to get their kids in the school.


HANNITY: And it is totally successful. The kids are in uniforms? Tell us about it really quick.

PERRY: The students wear — upper school students or high school students wear blazers, and the boys wear ties all the time. Three students came in and laughed. They thought they couldn't wear — they didn't have to wear uniforms. They got sent home.

Students understand that you can come to them and correct them if you let them know that you love them. And what so often happens is we come in with this almost militaristic approach. That's not what we're doing. We're saying to them, "I love you enough to correct you."

HANNITY: The word "education" from Latin means to bring forth from within, predicated on the notion that the talent is there.

You go after kids. You go after the mothers that baby their kids. You go after drinking. You go after sex. You go after eating the wrong food. You go after blaming white people for your problems. You lay it all on the line.

PERRY: Absolutely.

HANNITY: Because you believe their creator with talents endowed that people.

PERRY: Everyone has a basic talent. One of the things I wanted to do with this book, one of the things I wanted to do with "Man Up!" was to show the African-American community that we have in our midst the resources that we need in order to move forward. We don't need to blame anybody. We have within us the resources to do it.

HANNITY: And you do it. And that's why your school is successful. Why does Dr. Cosby hit so hard? I love his message. It's great for all kids.

PERRY: You know, it's stunning. People like Michael Eric Dyson come after him, and I mean, Dyson is to the civil rights movement — let's just say he's a water boy.

COLMES: We've got to — unfortunately, we've got to take a break here, but we thank you so much for being here. Best of luck with your school.

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