Friday, July 14, 2017

The Racist Origins of Private School Vouchers - Center for American Progress

The Racist Origins of Private School Vouchers - Center for American Progress:

The Racist Origins of Private School Vouchers

Image result for big education ape The Racist Origins of Private School Vouchers
About three and a half hours southwest of Washington, D.C., nestled in the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont is Prince Edward County, a rural community that was thrust into the history books more than 60 years ago when county officials chose to close its segregated public schools rather than comply with court-mandated desegregation following the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision.1 Like many public school districts in the South during the Jim Crow era, Prince Edward County operated a segregated school system—a system white officials and citizens were determined to keep by any means necessary. The scheme they hatched was to close public schools and provide white students with private school vouchers.
Fast forward to 2017: President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have championed a plan to provide federal funding for private school voucher systems nationwide, which would funnel millions of taxpayer dollars out of public schools and into unaccountable private schools—a school reform policy that they say would provide better options for low-income students trapped in failing schools. Their budget proposal would slash the Education Department’s budget by more than 13 percent, or $9 billion, while providing $1.25 billion for school choice, including $250 million for private school vouchers.2
When pressed on the risks and unintended consequences of potential exclusionary policies in voucher programs, Secretary DeVos refused to commit to aggressively enforce civil rights protections. In May of 2017 in her testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, Betsy DeVos declined to say whether she would protect students against discriminatory policies in private schools that receive federal funding through vouchers.3
As Americans debate this issue on the national level, they must consider both the historical context and the actual impact of voucher programs.

Sordid history of school vouchers

During Jim Crow—when state and local laws enforced racial segregation—Prince Edward County operated two high schools: the well-funded Farmville High School for white children and the severely underfunded Robert Russa Moton High School for black The Racist Origins of Private School Vouchers - Center for American Progress:

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