Trump’s Signature Education Goal Has A Long History With White Flight
Decades ago, voucher programs were used to sidestep desegregation by helping white students go to all-white academies.
Debates about the viability of school voucher programs have focused in recent months on programs with lackluster or spotty academic records. But there’s another issue raised by the potential expansion of public financing for private schools: an exacerbation of segregation.
A brief released Tuesday by the left-leaning Century Foundation takes a look at the limited research on race and school voucher programs to glean what expansion of these programs at the federal level would mean for student diversity. The brief’s results are mixed, but it posits that these programs slightly increase segregation in private and public schools.
The history of school voucher programs is tied up with ideas of white supremacy. To avoid school desegregation as a result of 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling, some Southern states created tuition grants to allow white students to attend all-white private schools in the 1960s. Some of these private schools still exist, though they are no longer specifically for white students.
White students continue to dominate private school demographics, in part because of this racist history, says Halley Potter, the Century Foundation fellow who wrote the brief. It’s a history that must be considered when looking at the future of these programs.
“It’s important to realize that a lot of people think about private school vouchers as providing more opportunities for students of color, but there’s also a trend borne out in the data that white families tend to use private school vouchers to leave diverse public schools to attend more white schools and religious families move to parochial schools. There’s a real sense of sorting there that promotes segregation,” Potter said.
There is a dearth of research that directly tracks school segregation as it relates to voucher programs. Potter’s study looks at available data from programs around the country and overseas and finds that these programs tend to slightly exacerbate issues of segregation, although the record is certainly uneven. This can happen when white students use these programs to leave schools where they are in the minority and go to schools where they Trump's Signature Education Goal Has A Long History With White Flight | The Huffington Post: