Sometimes, you almost have to admire the callousness of Big Education and their puppets in high office.
As you know, Bobby Jindal has instituted a voucher system in Louisiana. It has proven very popular, especially among black families trapped in horrible schools. The Left is desperate to undo this experiment. They’ve tried lawsuits, which haven’t worked. They’ve tried to make an issue out of a small number of schools teaching young creationism rubbish in place of science (I addressed that concern here). And now this:
The Justice Department has petitioned a U.S. District Court to bar Louisiana from awarding vouchers for the 2014-15 school year to students in public school systems that are under federal desegregation orders, unless the vouchers are first approved by a federal judge. The government argues that allowing students to leave their public schools for vouchered private schools threatens to disrupt the desegregation of school systems. A hearing is tentatively set for Sept. 19.
As Ed Morrissey noted, this is trying to apply the now-defunct pre-clearance of the VRA to schools.
There’s no denying the state’s racist history of school segregation or its ugly efforts in the late 1960s and early 1970s to undermine desegregation orders by helping white children to evade racially integrated schools. These efforts included funneling public money to all-white private schools. But the situation today bears no resemblance to those terrible days. Since most of the students using vouchers are black, it is, as State Education Superintendent John White pointed out to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “a little ridiculous” to argue that the departure of mostly black students to voucher schools would make their home school systems less white. Every private school participating in the voucher program must comply with the color-blind policies of the federal desegregation court orders.
90% of the students taking advantage of vouchers are black. 86% are from schools rated D or F. Considering that our current public school system has been one of the biggest factors in maintaining racial segregation (by making good school districts expensive and pricing out poor and even middle class minorities), it is frankly absurd to make this argument.
I have to think that the Justice Department knows how absurd their argument is. They are simply desperate to derail this program before it succeeds.
Back during the Cold War, my dad worked with immigrants from behind the Iron Curtain. One of the things they loved to do after seeing him was to go around the corner to the farmer’s market. The Dekalb Farmer’s Market was wonderful. It was massive, it had every kind of produce and meat you could imagine and it was all fresh and delicious. Neal Booortz has a story about taken a Russian friend there who couldn’t believe that ordinary people were allowed to shop there; surely it was only intended for the elite.
The patients loved the farmer’s market but it also angered them because it illustrated, better than anything ever could, how much of a failure communism was. They had spent their lives being told that moldy bread and brown lettuce were all the could expect. Suddenly, they realized this wasn’t the case. This angered them not just for their own sakes, but for the sakes of the friends and family members they’d left behind.
The more kids escape our Soviet-style school system, the more the support for hyper-controlled, one-size-fits-all, overly-bureaucratized system will fade. Every student who goes to a school where the teachers are free to teach, where the halls are safe and where success is met with praise is a student who will never support the gulag system again. They don’t even have to go private schools, per se. Just being able to go to better public schools would be enough. And the pressure they will exert does not have to abolish schools, but to reform them (something I’ve talked about here; my opinion on some issues has changed since then, but it’s still reflective of my thinking on the subject.)
Big Education is losing. They are scared. They are desperate. The race card is there last refuge. The response to this should be disgust, but also elation. We’re winning.