Ask the White Guy: School Vouchers Delivery From Racism, or Perpetuation of Racism

Q. A comment on our story about Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s comparing President Obama to virulent racist George Wallace provoked a response in support of Governor Jindal:

Get your facts straight – 9 in 10 students using the voucher program are black. Cassandra

A. And that fact is why the Department of Justice went after Louisiana. Governor Jindal is fighting for vouchers because Louisiana is under a court decision to desegregate schools. The court found that the voucher system in which nine in 10 students are Black INCREASED segregation (which was the intent of the Louisiana government).

If you run a school system that discriminatessending Black children to vastly inferior schoolsit is hardly a positive thing when drowning people clutch at anything they see that might be a lifeline.

There are wonderful charter schools, like the Success Academies in New York City, run by Eva Moskowitz, which produce superior results. But most charter schools aren’t that good and the history of a voucher system is fraught with fraud and criminal activity.

After World War II and Korea, returning Black veterans with GI Bill education benefits were ripped off by inferior schools that were set up to prey on people. The Black veterans, previously victims of segregated and inferior schools, could not have known what good education would look like, and many expended their benefits only to receive inadequate and inferior education as a result. It’s impossible for me to think that Louisiana is all of a sudden swarming with people who are moving in to do right by Black people there. When I see a statistic like nine in 10, I smell a rat. It’s a big stinky ratthe rat of mismanaging what you’re paid to manage (the public schools), and then when you’re caught, you have your political buddies set up charter schools to screw over the same people twice. It’s not just the South, by the way; I see that happening right here in New Jersey. Politically connected slumlords rent out empty buildings to suddenly appearing charter schools on amazingly lucrative leases.

My hunch is backed up by facts. According to a Stanford University study on Louisiana charter schools (by the university’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, or CREDO), 81 percent of students in Louisiana charter schools are Black and 78 percent of all students live in poverty.The study (see Figure 13) shows zero impact in educational outcome for poor children. For all Black students, there was a decent gain in number of days under instruction; however, that was led by Black students NOT in poverty. The academic results in this study are not broken out by poverty level, so you can say that charter schools in Louisiana overall have a significant (43 percent) improvement over their public-school counterparts, but you can’t say that for certain about poor childrenand the results in Figure 13 make me suspicious.

It’s a far better approach in a recalcitrant state like Louisiana to make sure the entire system is fixed for all people before you move on to vouchers. That way the people who should have been accessing a free and equal public school can make a choice from a position of strength, not one of desperation.

Keep putting that ball on the tee for me, Cassandra, although it disgusts me that your side of the political spectrum is being used by billionaires like the Koch brothers who cynically use racists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Ted Nugent, Marcus Bachmanns wife, toe-tapping Senators, Representatives who think fetuses masturbate and people like Pat Buchanan to cultivate a following by cultivating and leveraging racist tendencies, I only wish it were this easy on the golf course. The problem is that it’s destroying our nation. It is the worst part of the human psyche that discriminates for profit; it is the most destructive thing you can do to a society.

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