Saturday, January 14, 2017

Truth: Why vouchers and school choice were created – Cloaking Inequity

Truth: Why vouchers and school choice were created – Cloaking Inequity:

Truth: Why vouchers and school choice were created

Donald Trump promised during his presidential campaign to spend $20 billion on school choice in his first 100 days. The rumor out of DC is that those funds will come from Title I —if he actually keeps this campaign promise. The fact that Betsy DeVos, a prominent supporter of vouchers for school run by corporations and churches, has been nominated as US Secretary of Education appears to suggest that he will.
Vouchers are being sold by Howard Fuller (who has come out in support of Betsy Devos) and others privatization proponents as civil rights

However, what should be know is that vouchers were first created and used for two primary purposes— profit and to discriminate against children of color.
Milton Friedman, a white academic from the University of Chicago, invented the idea of school vouchers in the mid-1950s. He was very clear about his belief that corporations should profit from education and run schools— not the public. In 1997 he wrote “Public Schools: Make Them Private” He argued that vouchers were “a means to make a transition from a government to a market system,” to enable “a private, for-profit industry to develop that will provide a wide variety of learning opportunities and offer effective competition to public schools.” In addition to abolishing the public system of schools, he also believed that vouchers could be used to stack schools by race if folks so chose.
However, vouchers were not and are not being sold to the masses as a massive attempt to privatize or engineer schools, instead vouchers are politically framed as mostly “limited” approaches that would help poor children in cities (!?). Save our Schools New Jersey writes,
Pro-privatization foundations and think tanks market-tested the idea of vouchers as an intervention for high-poverty school districts and found that it was more palatable to voters than a broad-based voucher program that would be open to all children.  The nation’s first modern school voucher program was passed into law by the Wisconsin legislature in 1989, targeting students from low income households in the Milwaukee School District.  Despite poor academic results and an extremely high rate of turnover, voucher supporters were able to grow this pilot program significantly, once it was enacted, including a particularly large expansion in June 2013, under the leadership of Governor Scott Walker.
As of late-2012, targeted private school voucher programs were in place in the cities of Cleveland, Milwaukee, New Orleans, and Racine; in the District of Columbia, Colorado’s Douglas County, as well as statewide in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah and Virginia.  Although vouchers have consistently failed academically, legislatures in Indiana, Louisiana and Wisconsin have expanded their initially targeted programs statewide.
Are vouchers really for low-income and children of color? In 2014, the NC NAACP filed an amicus brief challenging the constitutionality of North Carolina’s voucher program. After Brown v. Board of Education, Southern states decide that they would desegregate with All Deliberate Slowness. One of the ways that they implemented this approach was school vouchers. Vouchers were the confederacy’s response to Brown v. Board (See New Research: Vouchers— schools do the choosing). The NAACP brief was cited in a blog as saying,
This report and the Pearsall Plan were adopted by the General Assembly in 1956. Governor Luther Hudges told the legislators at the opening of the session that “the people of North Carolina expect their General Assembly and their Governor to do everything legally possible to prevent their children from being forced to attend mixed schools against their wishes.” Governor’s Address to the General Assembly, July 23, 1956, 10 Senate Journal.
Neither the Governor nor the all-white legislature disappointed those expectations. The quarter of the state represented by the NC NAACP was ignored. The State established a procedure for local referenda which would permit a school district that was ordered to desegregate to close all its public schools. The State would then provide vouchers to white students in those districts to attend private schools. The rationale behind the statutory change regarding the State Board of Education and non-public schools was out in the open. The ploy of state oversight helped legitimize the use of taxpayer dollars to fund white families’ abandonment of desegregated public schools and to subsidize racially segregated private schools (See Morgan, History of Private School Regulation in North Carolina, p.3). This is the direct and notorious ancestry of school vouchers in North Carolina, and the corrupt foundation upon which the current voucher legislation is built.
What’s shocking is that private school “segregation academies” were in created in states across the South at that time, and they still exist today! In fact, they are even very prominent in African American majority counties.
As the NAACP worked to desegregate North Carolina’s public schools from 1968 to 1972, private school enrollment nearly tripled in the state from approximately 18,000 to over 50,000. Increased enrollment in private schools, furthermore, was often concentrated in areas with high populations of African-American students.
The NAACP found the following:
  • Bertie County is 62% African American. Lawrence Academy was founded in Bertie County in 1968. Its student body is 98% white.
  • Halifax County is 53% African-American. Halifax Academy and Hobgood Academy were both founded in 1969. Halifax Academy is 98% white; Hobgood Academy is 95% white.
  • Hertford County is over 60% African-American, but Northeast Academy, established in 1966, is 99% white.
  • Vance County is 49% African-American; Kerr-Vance Academy, established in 1968, is 95% white.
Some of legacy “academies” in North Carolina are still clear about how you can attend their predominately white schools. continue reading: Truth: Why vouchers and school choice were created – Cloaking Inequity:

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