Charter Schools

Decades after Brown v. Board of Education, Choice Finally Integrated Schools in Alabama's Poorest County

Opponents of charter schools often claim that school choice will segregate K-12 education. Sumter County, Alabama proves them wrong.



Earlier this week, something momentous, something historic, happened in Sumter County, the poorest county in Alabama and a place with a long history of segregation: A publicly funded school opened in which the student body was actually racially integrated.

Welcome to the University Charter School in Livingston, which serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Situated on the campus of the University of West Alabama, the school had to fight court battles against the local board of education in order to open and is one of just three charters currently operating in the state.

Charter schools are funded with tax dollars but are free from many of the bureaucratic rules and requirements that traditional, residential assignment schools have. In 2015, according to federal education statistics, about 3 million, or 6 percent of K-12 students, attended charters; in 2000, only 1 percent of students did. Parents and students must choose to enroll in a particular charter, which typically gets less money per student than traditional public schools. Yet charters are routinely attacked for "draining away" money and "skimming the best students" from conventional public schools. As the University of Arkansas' Jay P. Greene has pointed out, studies that control for individual student ability consistently find charters improve academic outcomes especially among minority students in urban districts. Charters are also criticized for promoting segregation because they disproportionately serve poor and minority students in racially isolated areas. For instance, in her 2017 book Democracy in Chains, Duke historian charges that the modern school choice movement, including charter schools, is a covert way to perpetuate racial division in K-12 education.

Schools such as University Charter put the lie to such claims. Slightly more than half of the students are black and slightly fewer than 50 percent are white, reports, so the racial makeup of the school doesn't quite reflect the area's demographics (county-wide, 76 percent of students are black and 24 percent are white). But "no public school in the county has come close to reaching the percentage at [University Charter], according to historical enrollment documents."

That's an understatement. Decades after Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court decision striking down legal school segregation, many parts of the country, especially in the former Confederacy, dragged their heels on actually integrating schools. It wasn't until 1969 that federal courts finally forced Alabama to integrate and the response by whites was overwhelmingly to withdraw from traditional public schools and create a private system of "segregation academies" that weren't covered by anti-discrimination laws. In Sumter County, for instance, a private Christian school called Sumter Academy opened in 1970 and operated until June of last year. In 2017, fully 159 of its 160 students were white, with another being identified as "Asian or Pacific Islander."

The creation of segregation academies had long-lasting effects on Sumter County's public schools:

According to the state department of education, during the 2017-2018 school year, all but 11 of Sumter County's 1,500 [public school] students were black. Black students accounted for nearly 100 percent of enrollment in five nearby counties, all part of the Black Belt region of Alabama, enrolling fewer than 20 white students during the same time period. [Emphasis added.]

Alabama had been slow to adopt a charter school law and University Charter is the only such institution in a rural county. As reports:

Until Sumter Academy closed, families had to choose between an all-black public school system or an all-white private school.

University Charter School board member Anthony Crear said now families have a choice. "It's an opportunity for whites and blacks to go to school together," Crear said, "to give the kids in Sumter County an educational experience that they perhaps have not had before."

For more on charter schools, go here.

Hat tip: Alan Vanneman.

In 2015, Reason TV's Jim Epstein explored the public school system in Camden, New Jersey while exploring "Why Government Money Can't Fix Poverty"—and why school choice can.

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  1. Where all da white people go?

    1. Did you miss the Alabama dateline? The fledgling bigots attend backwater religious schools.

      1. I thought all 14 of them were in DC for some kind of Unite the White rally.

        1. I thought all 14 of them

          You thought wrong. There are more than 14 bigots on the average local Republican Committee.

      2. Football being the state religion, did you miss something?

      3. Sumter County, Alabama proves them wrong.
        Y’all trolls work on your reading skills…

    2. Since we still allow people to live where they want, they chose to live somewhere else. How dare they?

      1. “We still allow” is the liberal pipe dream of socialist authoritarians. Good luck foisting that off on the black people of Alabama.

  2. That photo is gonna clench a lot of assholes in these parts.

    1. By “these parts” do you mean your gated community with the guard outside?

      1. He means you’re all racists, dumbass!

      2. Tony is friends with and regularly hangs with a lot of black and brown people! His gardener, his maid, and his pool boy are all people of color.

    2. Well, the race-realist alt-righters won’t like it. And we do have a few of them around here. But it’s just a few, at least I hope anyway. And fuck’em anyway. Most of the Reason Republicans, on the other hand, I don’t think would have a problem with that type of integration.

      1. I find your sensible attitude towards Republicans to be…displeasing.

      2. All American right-of-center ideologies have racism at their core. Without racism, there wouldn’t need to be Republicans or libertarians.

        1. Racism is the reason we have a two-party system. This is known.

        2. All American right-of-center ideologies have racism at their core. Without racism, there wouldn’t need to be Republicans or libertarians.

          This may well the stupidist thing you’ve ever posted here.

          1. Republicans: name a single policy idea of theirs that isn’t about turning ignorant hicks against brown people. Foreign or domestic. Just one.

            Libertarians: who do you think were the original people they wanted off their lawns?

            1. Property rights are race neutral.

              Individual liberty is race neutral. In fact, it’s the exercise of individual liberty which helps oppressed minorities get their legal rights recognized.

              Markets are race neutral.

              1. Racist!

              2. Property rights are race neutral.

                In theory, if not so much in practice. As in, their very conception in this country is inextricably connected with race. First black people were the property everyone was talking about. Then it was important to keep black people off what property remained. The history of the US in two sentences.

                Individual liberty… [and] markets are race neutral

                But what about the circumstances for which these are code words for? Keeping your money for yourself and keeping the markets for yourself too. Guess who from.

                1. Individual liberty and markets are not “code words” for racism. They aren’t code words for anything.

                  Yes, some people have claimed property rights over things that they shouldn’t have. Property rights over people, for instance. That some people have claimed illegitimate property rights doesn’t negate property rights themselves as a concept.

                  1. Let’s not forget that the abolitionist movement was strongest in the property based agricultural communities of the Midwest. Their first political party, The Free Soil Party, advocated abolition and property rights. Private property rights and individual rights have always gone hand in hand throughout history

                  2. That some people have claimed illegitimate property rights doesn’t negate property rights themselves as a concept.

                    I don’t understand why policy should pay much attention to concepts which contradict experience. Get back to us about exalting property rights when it is no longer possible to walk into a maternity ward, and separate the infants in their cribs into two groups, based on family wealth, just by looking at skin color.

                2. It’s like chemjeff doesn’t even understand how progressivism works!

                3. Based on Tony’s stellar analysis, taken to its logical conclusion, the following items are all racist:

                  The United States
                  The Office of the President
                  The Democrat party
                  Housing and urban development

                  God you’re stupid.

              3. If property rights are actually race neutral, how come such severe imbalances in property ownership persist among races? I suggest maybe the rights can be framed as race neutral in theory, while specifics about applying the rights continue to get the old discriminatory job done.

                If you think otherwise, and have any answer other than a suggestion that the imbalance is a result of racial inferiority among blacks, I would welcome hearing what you have to say.

                1. The concept of voting has a history of discrimination, and the outcomes aren’t race neutral.

                  Does that make voting racist?

            2. Medicare Part D: Racist!

            3. Well, we could start with the Civil Rights Act which, in case you forgot, was opposed by Democrats.

            4. “Libertarians: who do you think were the original people they wanted off their lawns?”

              Never saw a lawn jockey?

              1. Racist!

          2. Woah woah woah. Slow down there chief. This is Tony turned up to only 5 on the stupidity scale.

          3. This may well the stupidist thing you’ve ever posted here.

            Agree. This was stupid, even for Tony.

          4. You know how property rights are pretty much the end of things for you guys? Once those are secured, we’ll all just be cool and hang out and don’t need more rules and shit.

            Ponder on what the beginning of it all is.

            1. Racism!

              1. Subject has exhibited signs of genuine learning. Isolate and euthanize.

                1. It’s racism all the way down!

                  1. Racist!

        3. The Democrat party was the party of slavery.

          The Democratic Party was the party of segregation for decades.

          Former Senate majority leader Robert Byrd was an official in the Ku Klux Klan.

          Hugo Black, FDR’s appointment to the Supreme Court, was a lawyer for the Ku Klux Klan.

          FDR himself locked up most of our Japanese-American population in camps simply because of their ethnicity.

          Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, signed a law making interracial marriage illegal,

          Wilson segregated the army.

          Wilson supported Jim Crow laws in the South.

          Democrat Bill Clinton praised Democratic senator William Fulbright, a segregationist.

        4. The article is literally about how school choice promotes diversity. Last time I checked that’s an idea championed by conservatives and libertarians. Not progressives.

          Also, you are aware that Dwight Eisenhower with a Republican Congress passed the first two civil rights acts since Reconstruction, right?

          1. Those Republicans became Democrats. You know this, because Democrats aren’t racist, like Republicans.

            That’s how you know that Republicans are racist.

            1. I’ve met more racist republicans that I’ve met from the democrats.

              1. Racist!

        5. Tony|8.16.18 @ 7:36PM|#
          “All American right-of-center ideologies have racism at their core.”

          Tell us, oh lefty shitbag, which party supports racist preferential choices in universities.
          Sorta like how Obo ended up at Harvard.

        6. your statement is racist.

          1. Racist!

    3. Oh no. Evidence that contradicts our “Republicans are racists” narrative. Better double-down.

  3. RIP in Peace Arthea Franklyn.

    1. Your autocorrect has no R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

  4. I suppose if charter schools lead to greater racial integration, I’ll support them. But they can’t be our only tool to combat the evils of segregation. We libertarians also need to consider forced busing to integrate public schools.

    1. But if you ask me to bus my children
      I hope the cops take down your name
      So love me, love me
      Love me, I’m a liberal

      h/t Phil Ochs

  5. See, this is the type of stuff that Libertarian candidates should be talking about. Not the culture war bullshit.

    1. ? you think integration/segregation isn’t “culture war bullshit”?

      1. Well, not current culture war bullshit.

        And if it is, this is culture war bullshit that Libertarians (and all sane people) can actually win.

        But what I meant more broadly is talking about school choice, where it is overwhelmingly clear that parents are voting with their feet to choose school choice options over traditional state-run schools.

        It can really be the centerpiece of a “we’re the sane ones” platform that is grounded in liberty. Talk up school choice, talk up private retirement account options, talk up pot legalization, and when the other tribes go off on things like “57 genders” and “deport all the Muslims” just point and laugh.

        1. “pot legalization”

          If you add 2nd Amendment rights you will have identified two key “culture war” issues.

        2. “deport all the Muslims”

          The closest we’ve come to that in mainstream politics is Trump calling for a pause on Muslim immigration until better immigration regs can be found.

          Trump’s idea may have problems, given that he never tried to implement, but who outside of Robert Spencer and the like are saying deport all Muslims?

          1. A lot of Trump supporters would happily take away citizenship from all muslims and drop them in the Sahara Desert.

            1. Which specific examples do you have in mind?

              1. Carry on, bigots. Taking the rest of your right-wing preferences down the drain with your stale bigotry as America continues to progress against your wishes.

              2. Go to any right-wing website and read the comment section on any article dealing with Muslims. You will find no shortage of inflammatory and bigoted comments directed at Muslims because of their faith.

                And I wonder what these folks would think about deporting all the Muslims.


                1. Racist!

        3. A lot of “libertarian” purists on here are satisfied to sit and rage behind the computer rather than be pragmatic. That shit never gets anything done.

          1. Racist!

  6. Had patriotic and decent Americans in the immediate wake of the Civil War foreseen the degree to which Alabama would continue to constitute a moral, economic, political, cultural, and educational drag on our society for another 150 years, I doubt Alabama would have been permitted to resume statehood.

    A string of unincorporated territories along our southern border would have been better. Imagine an America with no senator from Alabama, no House member from Mississippi, no electoral vote from South Carolina. I believe progress of many types would have reached many southern communities more quickly without statehood, reducing the misery, deprivation, and backwardness experienced by many Americans.

    1. You are such a sad little man.

      1. He identifies as retarded.

        1. And if he didn’t, it wouldn’t be hard to figure out.
          He’s also an asshole.

    2. The Democrats politically ran the South until the 1980s.

      1. For many years, Alabama Democrats were a stain on the Democratic Party and on America.

        Then they turned into Alabama Republicans. Today they are a stain and drag on the Republican Party and on America.

        1. Racist!

    3. “Imagine an America with no senator from Alabama, no House member from Mississippi, no electoral vote from South Carolina. I believe progress of many types would have reached many southern communities more quickly without statehood, reducing the misery, deprivation, and backwardness experienced by many Americans.”

      Would never had FDR, so maybe you’ve got something there.

      1. Without Alabama, FDR would have won just 43 states.

        Other than that, great comment, goober.

        1. Racist!

  7. University Charter School board member Anthony Crear said now families have a choice.

    They had a choice. And they were choosing segregation.

    This really isn’t hard to understand, there are parts of America that are still really racist.

    1. They had a choice. And they were choosing segregation.

      This really isn’t hard to understand, there are parts of America that are still really racist.

      Which is why they are choosing to integrate now.

    2. Exactly! Boston, detroit, St Louis, Bal, Chicago…

      1. You know who are excellent judges of which parts of America are most racist? Black people.

        Before the Civil War, there were states which had notably large black percentages, and other states which did not. Still true today, but with only two exceptions, they are not the same states. Blacks were concentrated in the South before the Civil War, but afterward, their proportions in southern states declined in every state. Many northern states saw increases. Blacks decided that, with millions choosing the cities you listed as improvements.

        The two curious exceptions to the trend, by the way, were Maryland and Delaware, both of which had notable black percentages before the Civil War, and have yet-larger black percentages now. So maybe if you were JesseDE, instead of JesseAZ, your racial commentary would enjoy more credibility.

        1. “Many northern states saw increases.”

          Yes. 100 years ago.

    3. Those Sumter County crackers are so racist they choose to live where the overwhelming majority of people are Black.

      You won’t find anti-racist liberals doing that most anywhere, and in the uncommon case where they do, they send their children to private schools so they won’t associate with poor Blacks

  8. Ok, now explain what’s so wonderful about integration that it’s necessary to move heaven and earth to achieve it?

    1. So that unlike their hill-dwelling cousin-fucking parents, they might grow up in a world wherein they become comfortable around people who don’t look like them–who aren’t even genetically related to them. And that way we build a more peaceful world.

      1. I don’t any cousin fucking hill dwellers, but I do know that Franklin Roosevelt not only fucked his cousin, he married her.

        If the benefits of integration are so obvious, why have over 50 years of arm-twisting failed to produce the desired results? In fact quite a few people seem rather pissed off, and a peaceful outcome is not the likely outcome.

        1. Maybe we should twist harder. I don’t think it’s fair for the most stubborn racist assholes to get to decide when the country gets to progress.

          1. Better Average Americans get to decide then elite assholes who fuck the USA up.

            1. So we agree, you below-average types shouldn’t run things.

              1. So we agree that dum dums like you are not in charge and never will be again.

          2. The beatings will continue until race relations improve!

        2. If you think that nothing has gotten better for people of color since the 60s then you aren’t paying a lick of attention, and yeah some of that had to be forced on the racist fuckers in the south.

          1. Trying to reason with right-wing racists is not worth the effort. The better course, which has worked for more than half a century, is to just shove societal progress — education, reason, science, tolerance, modernity — down their whining, no-count throats.

            1. Racist!

              1. Open wider. Your betters are not done.

        3. The “desired results”? You mean like a generally more tolerant society?

          1. Racist!

      2. Have you ever been to lunch at an integrated school?

        The kids segregate themselves. You have tables of black kids, tables of Hispanic kids, tables of white kids, and so on. Not only that, but it isn’t the white table that shows the most hostility when approached by members of a different race.

        You can’t force people to be comfortable with people who don’t look like them.

        1. But that’s only lunch.

          1. You should see the Democrat KKK mixers. They are a bleak affair.

          2. The only time the kids have free choice. Why do you hate freedom, Tony?

        2. Sarcasmic, actually you can force at least many people to be comfortable with people who don’t look like them. But it takes persistence for a long time. And you may have to accept that only their children will really change.

          I live in a town outside Boston which saw a population upheaval during the era of the Boston integration crisis. The ethnic character of the town changed markedly, with sharply increased cohorts of white-flight, anti-integrationists added to its mix.

          Now, in the public schools, the self-segregation you describe doesn’t exist. The kids socialize, apparently, as complete equals. It seems to be the case that the most popular kid in the school could as easily be a black kid as a white kid. Black and white kids recreate in mixed groups, without any sign of racial tension. Or at least without any sign among themselves. There are still hateful incidents, sometimes, with spray paint, in the dead of night.

          The point is, it’s worlds different than it used to be. And it’s mostly like that all over the Boston area. I’m grateful for the changes.

          You are simply mistaken. Culture matters enormously. Very few people are independent moral philosophers. Most people get their values from their neighbors. Whatever culture looks like it’s dominant, and looks like it will persist, is what the vast majority of people are going to adapt to, and form their values around.

        3. I went to school in Louisiana and went to kinda forcibly integrated middle and high schools. They sent GT kids to the “inner city” black schools. And yes, many of the black kids were openly hostile to the white kids and the white kids were mostly just there to go to school and get it over with and go home. The strange thing was that a lot of the GT kids were black, but many of them were heavily influenced by the local neighborhood kids, so they eventually went from kinda nerdy GT kids to talking more “black” and wearing clothes that were more “black” like the African colors and shit like that, but also they became complete dickbags to the white kids who used to be their friends. Their grades would slip and they would (seemingly purposefully) do poorly, just so they wouldn’t be seen as “acting white.” It was totally bizarre.

      3. Tony|8.16.18 @ 8:07PM|#
        “So that unlike their hill-dwelling cousin-fucking parents,…”

        This from the brother and father fucking contingent.

    2. If your next-door neighbor is black, or Mexican, or Muslim, or just someone who is not like you, and you observe your neighbor acting in an utterly pedestrian fashion, then you are less likely to have stereotypical and bigoted views of people belonging to that group.

      1. Beyond this, the article here does not show heaven and Earth being moved. It shows people being able to make a school decision with their children. This is an important thing to note. That this integration that did not occur by force, happened here by choice.

        1. Choice Finally Integrated Schools in Alabama’s Poorest County

          In other words, this was the best of a set of bad options. Some choice! Get back to me when you can point to richest county in the state being integrated. Nobody except a handful of truly sick progressives ever does that to their children if they can avoid it. Even most progtards.

          Diversity, like the law, is for the Little People. Those who can afford to escape it inevitably do.

  9. Decades after Brown v. Board of Education, Choice Finally Integrated Schools in Alabama’s Poorest County

    Free abortions for poor black kids at the school clinic? Awesome!

    /typical progressive who equates choice with abortion

  10. Typical Reason leaving out a bunch of stuff.

    You know what integration entails, there, Gillespie? Busing kids from their homes way past the closest school to be forced to fill the quota of skin color. This involves busing white kids into schools with mostly black kids and black kids being bused into school with mostly white kids.

    Who gives a fuck that kids have to get up earlier to ride the bus for thirty minutes to an hour.

    Some of these neighborhood are mostly black or mostly white which is why the school reflect that racial makeup. In the South, people also live in family homes for generations so there is not a turn over of new residents that might bring different racial makeups.

    Not everything is racism in the South.

    Some of it is racist policies from 150 years ago and then the Nanny State keeping things bad for people.

    1. What’s this got to do with people choosing to send their kids to a charter school?

  11. This is a really weird thread.

    1. You took ambien and smoked a bowl. No that was me. And that’s part of why it’s weird for you.

      1. Racist!

  12. “create a private system of “segregation academies” that weren’t covered by anti-discrimination laws.”

    Incorrect since 1976. Thanks to the U. S. Supreme Court, segregation is illegal in private schools as well as in public schools.

    And that ruling as been as effective in integrating the private schools as Brown was in integrating the public ones.

    But some people in that county seem to prefer a charter school, even if (gasp!) it has students of the other race in it.

    I won’t claim that *all* people in the county would rush to integrated charter schools, but absent that charter, the parents would probably have chosen segregated schools and been statistically classed among the racist deplorables.

    1. Brown was pretty effective in integrating many public schools?including the ones I attended in Maryland. They went on to be regarded as among the nation’s best public school systems, too.

      Forced integration had various results. I suggest the successful results have been vastly under-noticed.

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  14. Diversicrats are running into the problem that there are not enough magically-enriching White kids to go around to “integrate” a lot of these districts.

    Acting like a roughly 50/50 school in a 76% Black district is some sort of integration or diversity triumph is ridiculous. It’s actually a demographically out-of-balance number that is obviously not sustainable for the available local population. That school having more than its share of White kids means other schools will have less.

    And nobody says much about what it is about sitting next to a White kid that is supposed to make the Black kid learn better.

    1. You know racist Democrats hate black people because everyone knows you put an Asian kid next to your kid, if you want them to do very well in school.

  15. Decades after Brown v. Board of Education, Choice Finally Integrated Schools in Alabama’s Poorest County

    Yup, whereas, only a few years after Brown, compulsion (or maybe more accurately, a commendable willingness to avoid compulsion) had integrated schools in every Maryland county, from the richest to the poorest. That wasn’t the final word, of course. There were many repercussions in years to follow. Likewise, this single example in favor of choice, however heartening, will not prove conclusive. Most important, it does not show that on questions of rights and policy, choice is a better tool than compulsion.

    It always perplexes me when on questions of rights, libertarians eschew compulsion, and champion choice. More perplexing still, they don’t seem to do that alike in all cases. Choice comes up a lot in the racial cases, compulsion more in the property rights cases.

    1. It always perplexes me when on questions of rights, libertarians eschew compulsion, and champion choice.

      You have an “interesting” perspective.

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