Home > Uncategorized > $10,000,000,000,000 Racial Equity Stimulus Package: A Moral Imperative… But a Political Impossibility

$10,000,000,000,000 Racial Equity Stimulus Package: A Moral Imperative… But a Political Impossibility

January 4, 2021

A USA Today op ed article co-authored by Schott Foundation CEO John H. Jackson and NAACP President Derrick Johnson calls for incoming Secretary of Education Miguel Cordova to ask Congress to pass a 1-2 trillion dollar package to help schools— especially schools serving children of color— avoid economic disasters on the horizon as a result of the revenues lost to the pandemic. Here’s a brief overview of this proposed Education Stabilization Program:

A targeted, multi-year $1-2 trillion Education Stabilization Program is a vital part of a larger Racial Equity Stimulus Package proposed by  one of us, John Jackson, and other civil rights leaders. This education-focused stimulus would allow for the critical racial equity investments needed from birth and throughout the public preK-12 education system.It would serve as a stabilization fund for states whose education budgets are challenged by COVID-19-caused revenue shortfalls, while also requiring a maintenance of effort by states. It would also include investments to enable the expansion of community schools, address student mental health and socio-emotional needs, support states moving toward tuition-free community college, and make significant investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other institutions that serve minorities and lead the nation in graduating students of color.

In reading a more detailed description of the “Racial Equity Stimulus Package” the Schott Foundation proposes I was initially struck by the persuasive argument for additional funding earmarked for schools and institutions serving black children and families. In the context of our history– from slavery through the New Jim Crow– we have undeniably short-changed people of color. Next I was struck by the magnitude of the proposal–

A federal, multi-year $10-12 trillion Racial Equity Stimulus Package is needed to make significant investments in our states, urban, rural, and tribal communities, and most importantly in historically under-supported American children and families. The stimulus package should be designed to kickstart progress where disparities have been most pronounced.

The list of disparities is unarguable, shameful and the natural consequence of unbridled free market capitalism that fails to factor in pre-existing inequities. From my perspective, there is a clear moral imperative to take action to remediate the inequities before they get worse. But…..

The political will and ability to target ANY funds up to this point has been non-existent. Even when there was sufficient political capital to pass the first federal laws offering supplemental funding to schools, the only way the bill could pass was to make sure the EVERY district received SOME kind of federal support. As noted in previous posts, the fact that Title One funds are provided to EVERY district based on the premise that EVERY district serves SOME children who are raised in poverty results in a watering down of the funds that COULD be targeted to the most needy and the most re-segregated schools.

I would advocate legislation that targets ALL compensatory funding to schools and districts where race has played a role in the decision-making regarding attendance zones. If banks redlined certain neighborhoods, those neighborhoods where mortgages were denied to poor families and blacks should receive no federal supplementary funds. The same should hold true for communities where zoning laws preclude the provision of low income housing. If communities wish to restrict access to their schools and services, how can a federal government that espouses equal opportunity justify the allocation of any funds for schools and services? And those poor and/or black neighborhoods or communities that resulted from those discriminatory practices should receive targeted funds whether they are called “reparations” or “supplementary” or “compensatory”. By any name they are fair, just, and moral. Maybe after turning in the direction of individualistic libertarianism for four years we might move toward communitarianism in the future. Individualism is the basis for our capitalistic economy… but communitarianism is the basis for democracy… and I favor democracy over greed.

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