From NEW REPUBLIC:
Conservatives frame privatization as a civil rights issue, but Trump’s extreme agenda is energizing racial justice and public education advocates.
Last September, at a rally in Roanoke, Virginia, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump made a promise to black America. “I will fight to make sure every single African-American child in this country is fully included in the American dream,” he said. “That includes the new civil rights issue of our time: school choice.” This has been a familiar refrain for Trump. “At rallies last year across the country,” The New York Times reported in March, “Trump said over and over again that he would use the nation’s schools to fix what he described as failing inner cities and a virtual education crisis that most hurts black and Hispanic children. In North Carolina, he called school choice ‘the great civil rights issue of our time.’ In Florida, he declared that ‘every disadvantaged child in this country’ should have access to school choice.”
“School choice” is conservative-speak for charter schools and vouchers, both of which represent a different degree of privatization in education. Vouchers use taxpayer dollars to fund attendance at private and religious schools, while charters are publicly funded but, in many cases, privately controlled. Trump’s education policy advocates for both, and in his controversial appointment of Betsy DeVos as education secretary, he elevated a longtime champion of the cause.
Original painting, Happy Birthday Miss Jones, with apologies to the late, great Norman Rockwell
(Click on image for larger version)
And don’t think I forgot about remaking the seals for the different Cabinet departments.
Like her boss, she has pitched school choice as a solution to racial inequities in education, saying in February that historically black colleges and universities “are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality.” (This is flat wrong. These schools were created, the Times notes, “as a direct response to rigid racial segregation when the doors of white colleges were typically closed to African-Americans.”)
Trump and DeVos are among the many opponents of public education who, for more than a decade now, have cast school privatization as a civil rights mission, arguing that vouchers and charters extend opportunity to communities of color. Even many Democrats, while maintaining that education is a public good, have bought into this narrative. But last year, the NAACP and the Movement for Black Lives called for a moratorium on charters, with the former saying the schools exacerbate segregation and destabilize traditional public schools (not least by diverting funds away from them). These civil rights groups, the Times reported, “portray charters as the pet project of foundations financed by white billionaires, and argue that the closing of traditional schools as students migrate to charters has disproportionately disrupted black communities.”
The NAACP’s concerns over charters were front and center at its annual convention in Baltimore this week.
This report, coming as it does six months into the Trump presidency, represents a significant confluence of events. As charters are increasingly associated with the administration’s toxic education agenda, progressives now see an opportunity to change the national conversation about school reform—to push back against privatization, and convince communities of color that these policies don’t address racial injustice. The Center for American Progress released a report earlier this month on the “racist origins” of vouchers, and last week Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a speech that privatization and disinvestment in education were “only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.”
There’s plenty more at the NEW REPUBLIC link above.