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Young Black Victims Of Liberal Dogma

Boy, does this just chap my backside: [1]

The U.S. Justice Department is suing Louisiana in New Orleans federal court [2] to block 2014-15 vouchers for students in public school systems that are under federal desegregation orders. The first year of private school vouchers “impeded the desegregation process,” the federal government says.

Thirty-four school systems could be affected, including those of Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. John the Baptist and St. Tammany parishes. Under the lawsuit, the state would be barred from assigning students in those systems  to private schools unless a federal judge agreed to it. A court hearing is tentatively set for Sept. 19.

The statewide voucher program [2], officially called the Louisiana Scholarship Program, lets low-income students in public schools graded C, D or F attend private schools at taxpayer expense. This year, 22 of the 34 systems under desegregation orders are sending some students to private schools on vouchers.


Federal analysis found that last year’s Louisiana vouchers increased racial imbalance in 34 historically segregated public schools in 13 systems. The Justice Department goes so far as to charge that in some of those schools, “the loss of students through the voucher program reversed much of the progress made toward integration.”

In Tangipahoa Parish, for instance, Independence Elementary School lost five white students to voucher schools, the petition states. The consequent change in the percent of enrolled white students “reinforc(ed) the racial identity of the school as a black school.”

… State Education Superintendent John White took issue with the suit’s primary argument and its characterization of the program. Almost all the students using vouchers are black, he said. [Emphasis mine. — RD] Given that framework, “it’s a little ridiculous” to argue that students’ departure to voucher schools makes their home school systems less white, he said. He also thought it ironic that rules set up to combat racism were being called on to keep black students in failing schools.

Read the whole thing.  [1] It is more important to our black president and to our black Attorney General that black children remain stuck in failing schools if leaving them would undermine an abstraction called “integration,” which renders these actual children ciphers on a leveller’s computer screen. They would rather ruin these kids’ chance at a decent education than violate liberal dogma. Tragic.

Ken Campbell, a black man who leads a group opposed to what the Justice Department is doing, talks common sense [3] here:

Today, Campbell said, educational excellence is more important for racial progress than equity in a given school. “We can’t ignore the kind of history of efforts to stop or block integration in schools in the South in the ’60s and ’70s,” he said. But he added: “I think in 2013 we have to have a very different viewpoint in some regards.

“In the name of racial harmony or racial integration, we’re going to assign kids to failing schools? These aren’t easy issues.”

The Black Alliance for Educational Options has been the loudest institutional voice in support of the Louisiana Scholarship Program [4], which lets low-income children in C-, D- and F-graded schools attend participating private schools at taxpayer expense. The group is holding a news conference Tuesday morning in Amite to urge the Justice Department to drop the lawsuit.

More Campbell:

But Campbell points out that in many public school systems, real racial balance is impossible because white families have moved away or put their children in private school.

He said it’s unjust to put up roadblocks to vouchers. Doing so, he said, essentially tells the state it must make poor black children stay in schools that rich children can leave. After all, if they had the money, those families could choose private school and disrupt integration on their own.

Nor did Campbell, who lives in Ascension Parish, see a problem with some Louisiana voucher schools being 100 percent black. The real question, he said, is what society’s goals should be and how it gets there. “I don’t think our ultimate end is just to have racially integrated schools,” he said. “I think our ultimate aim is to have quality schools.”

Come now, Mr. Campbell, who cares how good or bad the schools are, as long as the numbers fit the formula?

57 Comments (Open | Close)

57 Comments To "Young Black Victims Of Liberal Dogma"

#1 Comment By Art Deco On August 29, 2013 @ 8:35 am

Every State in this country has a public school system that takes any student that shows up at the school door, not only that but quite a few states have guarantees of public education in their constitutions, and require all children to go to school up to the age of 14 or 16.

So what? You are not distinguishing between a historical practice and principles of human behavior that have enough inertia behind them that you have to respect them. The practice of public schooling is one; the behavior of retail prices is the other.

You do not require a board of education to superintend a public agency financed with tax money any more than you require a board of hardware superintending retail outlets in lieu of Lowe’s or Home Depot.

You have a public agency because you have distributional concerns. The thing is, the distributional concerns can be met pretty thoroughly by the provision of vouchers and any subsidiary concerns about quality control can be met by regents’ examinations.

What you also have are vested interests both vocational and ideological. The combine formed by the extant school apparat, the teachers’ colleges, and the unions like things just the way they are. In the pursuit of liberty, justice, and pareto efficiency, we need to run these interests down.

#2 Comment By Annek On August 29, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

Siarlys Jenkins:

“I would expect a further result. A good portion of those 22% will also be teachable, once they are isolated from the general classroom, once it is made clear that the clowns are not “cool,” and once they have an opportunity, isolated from the peer pressure of their fellow clowns, to pursue some real skills.”

Further, those 22% might respond well to a different approach to teaching that might not have been the best one to use with the other 78%.

#3 Comment By Franklin Evans On August 29, 2013 @ 3:20 pm

Public schools have been (heroically, IMO) making this effort ever since it was saddled with the state, unfunded mandate known as “special education”.

That they’ve apparently failed obscures the fact that they have succeeded, just not nearly as much or as often as they and everyone else wanted them to succeed. There is also the fact that their successes, as much falling short as they were, were despite the fact that they were required to take a significant portion of their student populations and spend more resources on them per-capita than on the rest of the populations, but both without additional funding from the state and in the face of severe opposition from their communities to increase other sources of revenue, notably property taxes. Finally, when some districts proposed to fund public education by other methods or from other tax bases, they were roundly defeated and often ridiculed.

#4 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 29, 2013 @ 11:03 pm

Following up on Annek AND Franklin Evans, the notion that EVERY child REGARDLESS of disability should be “mainstreamed,” was stupid, cruel, and highly unproductive. A fair number of people with severe disabilities, especially cognitive ones, have a terrible time making sense of anything going on in class, and their presence IS disruptive for everyone else.

Generally, I favor a rebuttable presumption IN LAW that any given person is sane, competent, etc. That goes for hearings to have a conservator appointed, admission to public schools, everything. If someone has the capacity to assert a claim to sanity and competence, assume the affirmative until proven otherwise.

But sometimes, there is clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. Sometimes, parents and students would PREFER a specialized educational setting. The recent Justice Department action shutting down Georgia’s institution robbed many patients of a haven they treasured, throwing them out into a cold, cruel, indifferent, inexplicable world.

My favorite example, though, is when someone opened a private school in Wisconsin specializing in severe cognitive disabilities. A disability rights group sued to stop it as “segregation.” Their suit was dismissed, on the ground that they had no standing. The parents and students LOVED the school.

I also disagree with the facile liberal notion that EVERY misbehavior is a symptom of a “disability.” Many are, but not universally. Disability or no, Annek is correct that some students need a different method or program than others. And, skeptical though I am of widespread use of ritalin and other drugs, I have read moving testimony from people who said ritalin was the best thing that ever happened to them — it allowed them to focus, concentrate, make sense of what was going on in class. SOME people benefit from it, but far from all. There is no panacea, which is why detailed legislative or regulatory mandates do more harm than good.

#5 Comment By Franklin Evans On August 30, 2013 @ 10:51 am

Some random thoughts, in no particular order.

I was on the “advanced placement” track starting in 7th grade (junior high school at the time). We were about 20% of the total students in any grade. Socially, the lines were rarely drawn around this distinction. Physical attractiveness ruled everything. As a side note, without needing to take the AP tests during our SAT period, I qualified for half a semester of prerequisites when I started college. AP tests were necessary to get course credit. At the time (mid 70s) “remedial” programs were very rare in colleges. Just a thought.

Until recent “leveling” efforts driven by budget cuts and politially correct idiocy, special education teachers needed a minimum of a masters degree and certification in at least one content area with ongoing education requirements, simply because they were tasked with supporting all of the content areas with their students. A special ed designation was for disability in learning, not difficulty with a content area. Consider, if you will, the challenge of needing to be the sole source of content for a teenager whose peers have progressed beyond the elementary class model. There are valid self-esteem issues there, but simplistic denigrations of “segregated” classes addresses none of them.

The “unfunded mandate” criticism is a very complex issue. Many already solvent school districts could afford (at first) to absorb the increased costs, and kept silent about needing to increase revenues in the short- or middle-term. That silence was politically expedient, ever moreso as economic declines tended to make “unprofitable” things like education into budget footballs.

#6 Comment By Art Deco On August 30, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

The “unfunded mandate” criticism is a very complex issue. Many already solvent school districts could afford (at first) to absorb the increased costs, and kept silent about needing to increase revenues in the short- or middle-term. That silence was politically expedient, ever moreso as economic declines tended to make “unprofitable” things like education into budget footballs.

In New York we have an institution called “Co-operative Educational Services”. They are primarily a delivery system for vocational-technical instruction for consortia of non-metropolitan school districts and have a common physical plant separate from local school districts. You could expand on a concept like this having a menu of programs for primary and secondary students: special education, bilingual education and miscellaneous federally-finded muck, dumping grounds for incorrigibles, and vocational high schools. The fixed costs of such a program set could be a component of the state budget and the variable costs could come from an assessment on school districts for each student enrolled (pro-rating for parttime enrollments). An assembly of local school commissioners could take the state appropriation and compose a budget for the whole, determining the precise assessment rate on the member districts.

The local school districts would be left with the mainstream programs. You could supplement local tax revenue with an unrestricted state distribution (formulaically determined) to assist impecunious districts. In lieu of regulating the conduct of local school districts directly, you just administer regents’ examinations, publish the results, and put the worst districts under a trusteeship. You can have your mandated programs and leave the local boards with plenary discretion over the mainstream programs.

#7 Comment By Franklin Evans On August 30, 2013 @ 2:18 pm

Art Deco:

During my time in public schools, in Delaware County and found in other counties in southeastern PA, there were equivalents to NY’s CES on the same model (as I recall) as you describe, though I can’t recall on my own if the “plenary discretion” part was true.

Their mandate was narrower, to be sure. They did not absorb the special ed part, at least not explicitly. Their success was measured locally, with graduates finding employment with local businesses who needed their skills. The quality of their education and vo-tech training was measured by those businesses, whose critical feedback was gladly offered and accepted.

That model per se has been invalidated by the changes in the business landscape, both for technology and for any commitment to perform those functions locally, let alone to hiring local graduates. I would gladly examine modifications to it that might be valid.

I need to look it up for current practice, but again as I recall the PA per-student state subsidy to local school districts was the same dollar amount for all, regardless of their local tax bases or revenues. Delaware County, as an example, has generally enjoyed better results than other counties, being the home of upper-middle to upper-class enclaves. The townships (in the day) of Upper Darby (my home town), Springfield and Lower Merion are examples.