Home > Uncategorized > Re-Segregation Via Choice, Charters… and, Alas, Neighborhood Schools

Re-Segregation Via Choice, Charters… and, Alas, Neighborhood Schools

“The South’s New Re-Segration Plan: The Koch Brothers, ALEC, and the Sneaky Scheme to Undo Brown v. Board of Education”, Diane Ravitch’s article in Salon, describes how southern states are circumventing both desecration mandates and the separation of church and state through state legislation that introduces charters. Her writing, as always, is cogent and direct. She uses one state’s recent foray into “choice” as an example of how the stealth legislation works:

Mississippi just passed legislation to establish vouchers for children with special needs and to permit more charters. The “vouchers for children with special needs” is a first step towards a broader voucher plan that grows to include low-income children; then to include children in schools that have low test scores; then to include more and more children, until everyone gets a voucher. The not-so-subtle joke is that the voucher is not large enough to pay the tuition at a first-rate private school, so most of the children will have a voucher to go to a religious school whose teachers are uncertified and whose resources are meager. Worse, the children with special needs abandon the legal protections that the public school guarantees when they leave the public system.

But the south is not the only place that is re-segregating: schools in the north and east are becoming more racially homogeneous and choice is not the primary factor: housing patterns are. As noted in many posts exclusionary zoning practices and the consequent absence of low income housing in affluent districts has the same effect as school choice and offers a convenient excuse for legislators to dodge choice altogether: “people already have school choice— they can move into a community or neighborhood with good schools”.

Ms. Ravitch concludes her essay with these paragraphs:

Despite the absence of any advantages and the presence of scandals, frauds, and discrimination, more and more states are falling victim to the false promise of “school choice.” As one Florida superintendent explained it to me, charters enable parents to keep their children away from “those children.” Both charters and vouchers increase racial segregation, religious segregation, and economic segregation.

These trends are ominous for our democracy.

Dividing the whites from the blacks and Latinos, the Muslims from everyone else, and the rich from the poor is a formula for discord and scapegoating… and we are witnessing in this election how that implying out. It isn’t a pretty picture.

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