Re-segregation & the 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Ed. (Part 1)

By PAA-Suburban Philadelphia leader Danielle Schwartz, reprinted from her excellent blog, What’s the Big Idea?

Politicians are ignoring research, allowing re-segregation, and supporting charter schools over public. As I posted here, economist, Milton Friedman developed the concept of school choice in 1955, a year after desegregation.
Friedman wrote about his desire for parents to chose if their children would attend racially desegregated schools:

Under (a choice) system, there can develop exclusively white schools, exclusively colored schools, and mixed schools. Parents can choose which to send their children to. The appropriate activity for those who oppose segregation and racial prejudice is to try to persuade others of their views; if and as they succeed, the mixed schools will grow at the expense of the nonmixed, and a gradual transition will take place. So long as the school system is publicly operated, only drastic change is possible; one must go from one extreme to the other; it is a great virtue of the private arrangement that it permits a gradual transition.”

Today we are watching politicians who are not educated in the field of education use Friedman’s ideas and knowingly or unknowingly re-segregate our public schools. We live in an age where business leaders & politicians call for a “globally competitive workforce,” but are literally putting up walls between students who should be sitting side-by-side in public schools breaking down barriers. In the selective charter school industry, only students who fit their mold get accepted. Those who get accepted and don’t rule-follow well or test well are pushed out. Students who don’t fit into molds are often students who have the very potential to be our next innovative leaders.

Diane Ravitch reports, “Congress is about to pass new charter legislation, awarding more money to the charter sector, which will operate with minimal accountability or transparency. The bill has already passed the House of Representatives with a bipartisan majority and will now move to the Senate. Make no mistake: on the 60th anniversary of the Brown decision, Congress is set to expand a dual school system. One sector, privately managed, may choose its students, exclude those who might pull down its test scores, and kick out those it doesn’t want. The other sector–the public schools–must take in all students, even those kicked out by the charters.”

She continues, “The growth of the charter sector has been driven by a strange coalition. Charters are supported by wealthy hedge fund managers who give generously to individual charters and to charter chains; they fund political candidates who support charters. Charters are supported enthusiastically by the Obama administration, which endorses the privatization of public schools. Charters are a favorite of conservative groups like ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) and rightwing governors. Charters receive millions from some of the nation’s wealthiest foundations, including the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation.”

Thomas Jefferson warned, ““The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.”

He also stated, “I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”

It is time for the public to stand up and say that this is unacceptable. This is unethical. Because what may be legal may also be unjust.  It is time for us to remember that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

Ravitch writes, “Once there was a dream that American children could live and learn together. That was Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream. The charter movement says that dream is over, if it ever existed, and that the democratic dream of equal educational opportunity for all in common schools controlled by local communities is history, a relic of the past, replaced by the 21st century reality of a dual school system, separate and unequal.”

If we really want our public school students to be prepared for the 21st century, we cannot allow the agendas of the billionaires and the ignorance of politicians to march us back in time. It is time for a little rebellion.

Posted on by Julie Woestehoff Posted in Misc

Comments are closed.