Support School Choice on The 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education

On the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, which ended de jure segregation in the nation's public schools, John McWhorter writes that integration is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to education policy.

We need a new meme. Integration has its good points. It’s happening all around us. But when it comes to the classroom, we need to get comfortable with the idea of working toward what we might call “equal even if separate.”

Otherwise, we’re stuck with the soft bigotry of thinking black kids are the only ones in human history who can only open their minds when there aren’t too many other people like them in the room. It’s unclear how that qualifies as progressive thought.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

A lot of people in the education reform business talk about school choice as the civil rights issue of today. You don't have to agree with that to acknowledge that rotten and expensive public schools disproportionately poor, minority kids trapped in the country's K-12 institutions. The simplest, best way to deliver on the promise of equal access to education at the heart of Brown is to increase school choice right now.

Back in 2010, Reason TV graded Barack Obama's education plan. Even on a curve, he got an F. Original text follows:

Original release date: October 7, 2010. More resources, links here.

President Barack Obama is making his bid to be "the education president." At the start of NBC's recent Education Nation summit in New York, Obama appeared on the Today Show and touted what he claimed were a wide-ranging set of reforms to improve America's K-12 schools.

Yet Obama's education vision deserves an F for at least three reasons:

1. Money Talks. Obama says that the educational system needs new ideas and more money. Despite a doubling in inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending since the early 1970s, student achievement is flat at best. But Obama is placing most of his bets on the money part. While he brags constantly about his Race to the Top initiative, in which states competed for $4 billion to fund innovative programs, he's spent more than $80 billion in no-strings-attached stimulus funds to maintain the educational status quo.

2. Choice Cuts. Candidate Obama said that he'd try any reform idea regardless of ideology. Yet one of his first education-related moves after taking office was to aid his Senate mentor, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), in killing a successful and popular D.C. voucher program that let low-income residents exercise the same choice Obama did in sending his daughters to private school.

3. The Unions Forever. The two largest teachers unions, The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, overwhelmingly supported Obama with their votes and their contributions. Some 95 percent of the groups' campaign contributions go to Democratic candidates and the NEA, spends more money on elections that Microsoft, ExxonMobil, Walmart, and the AFL-CIO combined. No wonder Obama's big talking point is that he wants to add 10,000 more teachers to public payrolls despite the fact that there are already more teachers per student than ever.

Reforming education may not be politically easy, but the solution is pretty simple: Give parents and students more ability to choose - and exit - schools. This works for every other sort of business and it works for higher education, too. There's no reason to think it wouldn't work for K-12 education.

And sadly, there's absolutely no reason to think that Obama will embrace that sort of change.

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  • sarcasmic||

    School abortion? What?

  • UnCivilServant||

    Most schools in the NYCSD are abortions.

  • WTF||

    +1 Rubber Room

  • Drake||

    Socialism isn't for the Socialists themselves - they are exempt from their mistakes.

  • Flemur||

    You don't have to agree with that to acknowledge that rotten and expensive public schools disproportionately poor, minority kids trapped in the country's K-12 institutions.

    I'm not sure what that sentence is supposed to mean, but
    Bad Students, Not Bad Schools"

    But that's unthinkable, therefore never mentioned by Reason's liberal creationinsts.

    The simplest, best way to deliver on the promise of equal access to education at the heart of Brown is to increase school choice right now.

    Passive voice used to hide the fact that any such promise is just a statist lie.

  • DJF||

    Hey, don't you know that we live in a giant Lake Wobegon where all kids are above average and they should all learn Calculus II and go off to college and get not only a STEM undergraduate degree but a Masters or Doctorate while going into 6 figure debt..
    .

  • Christophe||

    Hi 'Murican

  • Lady Bertrum||

    There are charter schools with mostly black and Latino populations who score above state average or better on standardized tests. Good charters prove the double lies of a)blacks can't compete academically. b)mo money, mo money, mo money is the way to solve "inequality" in education.

  • Acosmist||

    Citation needed. Strongly.

  • Acosmist||

    Yep yep. How on earth do the minority kids keep having the bad luck to be trapped in the worst schools? It's a mystery!

  • UnCivilServant||

    Is it just me, or do the students in the article picture look bored at the press pagentry being played out during their class time?

  • NewYorkCentral||

    On the way to work this morning, I was serenaded by a radio ad by the new president of NYSUT (NY State United Teachers - A Union of Professionals!) telling us stupid voters to "fight back" against the "cuts and caps" and "left our students in dangerously overcrowded classrooms".

    Then I think about the public school my daughter attends, with 16-17 kids in a classroom, a $10,000 "Smart Board" in every room, and I think to myself, "What are they going to use the money for? Gold-plated faucet handles in the faculty bathroom?"

  • NewYorkCentral||

    NYSUT has helpfully made that ad available online, for those ready to be amused...

    http://www.nysut.org/news/2014.....ol-budgets

    Anyway, my point here is that in spite of having cut the class sizes literally in half over the 30 years since I attended public schools in NY (I regularly sat in classes with more than 30 students in them in grade school), and in spite of having nearly doubled school spending in the same time, the teachers' unions are demanding that we GIVE THEM MOAR MONEY in spite of having nothing to show for what we've already given them.

  • DJF||

    That is what unions are for, getting more money for less work. There is nothing wrong with trying to get more money for less work but don't ever think that they are doing anything other then that.

    Always look at an organizations real agenda. For example, the Realtors are interested in getting you to buy or sell a home since they don't get paid unless someone buys or sells a house. So all their talk about this being a good time to buy a house is working toward their agenda since its always a good time to buy a house since they always like to get their commission.

  • NewYorkCentral||

    Absolutely, no question. In this case, the ad is trying to convince us to "vote yes" on our local school budgets, which sounds perfectly innocent until you think about how that money gets used and who uses it. My daughter's district has the aforementioned SmartBoards and small classes, but has to hold a bond issue to fix the roof on school buildings or get new gear for a science lab. The fiscal mismanagement is painful to watch.

    The district itself is no better in this respect. They always schedule one of the grade school spring band/orchestra/chorus concerts the night of the school budget vote and "remind" everyone to go and vote on the budget down the hall after the concert. This is after we listen to the principal and teachers congratulate each other for how awesome they are to "give up their time to support music in our schools", totally ignoring the fact that they are PAID to do so!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Freedom of Association = RACISM

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