Racial segregation in United States education


This video from the USA says about itself:

Betsy DeVos Believes Jim Crow School Segregation Was Just “School Choice”

28 February 2017

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos might do well to attend a few history classes before she sends out her next press release. As Trump was meeting with leaders from the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, DeVos’s team issued a press release where she claimed that these institutions are a perfect example of how great “school choice” can be. She neglected to mention that many of these institutions were the only “choice” for African Americans during the era of Jim Crow segregation, and they were founded because wealthy white people like DeVos didn’t want to sit in the same class as black students. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this.

From the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in the USA today:

Segregation is on the rise – and we have to fight back

When the Supreme Court declared “separate but equal” unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education, it was a major victory for LDF and civil rights activists across the country.

But it wasn’t the end of segregation.

Today, 63 years later, segregation persists in our schools, along with a pervasive achievement gap between Black and white students.

Just last month, Principal Christine Hoffman of Campbell Park Elementary School – a predominantly Black public school in Pinellas County, Florida – sent out an email to staff saying that “white students should be in the same class.”

Our fight against discrimination in schools is far from over.

LDF is currently litigating Bradley v. Pinellas, a desegregation case in the Pinellas County School District. In fact, we have been litigating this case for fifty years – and appalling statements like Hoffman’s show just how much work is still ahead of us.

From Gardendale, Alabama to Hartford, Connecticut, LDF and co-counsels are litigating or monitoring nearly 100 desegregation cases – about half of these types of cases are active.

We know this fight well. With supporters like you by our side, we are prepared for the long haul.

Please take a moment to read my opinion piece on the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education on cnn.com. As Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration prepare to launch initiatives that could fundamentally weaken public education, we must remember the real cost of segregated education to our democracy – and continue to expose and challenge it.

With you in struggle,

Sherrilyn A. Ifill
President and Director-Counsel

P.S. We just celebrated the 63rd anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education last evening in Washington, D.C., and it sparked some relevant – and necessary – dialogue on the attack on public education. I hope you’ll go through the #BrownsPromise hashtag on Twitter and be a part of the conversation.

Florida students boo Trump’s miseducation secretary Betsy DeVos


This video from Florida in the USA says about itself:

Betsy DeVos Booed at Bethune-Cookman University‬‬ during her Commencement Speech

10 May 2017

BCU graduates standing and turning their back and booing on Betsy DeVos during her commencement speech.

Bethune-Cookman University dean interrupts DeVos speech, threatens students “your degrees will be mailed to you!” They persist!

By Nick Barrickman in the USA:

US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos booed by students at Florida college

12 May 2017

On Wednesday, US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was soundly booed by students while attempting to give the commencement address at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida, a historically black university.

In the days leading up to the event, Bethune-Cookman students sharply criticized the university administration’s decision to provide DeVos a platform at the commencement ceremony.

DeVos was confirmed in the US Senate February 7 by a 51-50 vote, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding vote. The education secretary is widely seen as a particularly philistine and crude representative of Trump’s cabinet of billionaires and multi-millionaires.

DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, the former CEO of Amway. The DeVos family is reportedly worth $5.4 billion, making them the 88th richest family in the US.

Betsy DeVos (whose brother is former US Navy SEAL and founder of Blackwater, Erik Prince) is notorious for her indefatigable opposition to public education. The wealthy, right-wing “school choice advocate” has bragged of her family’s efforts to buy favors from politicians, writing in 1997: “My family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party. I have decided … to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect things in return.”

At Bethune-Cookman May 10, DeVos was jeered upon being introduced at the ceremony. Nearly half the audience of 380 students turned their back on the speaker as she made her remarks, which consisted largely of banal calls for students to dedicate themselves to the common good and other standard fare.

As the boos and heckling became louder and louder, school president Edison O. Jackson stepped in and warned students to stop their protesting, or else “Your degrees will be mailed to you,” i.e., the ceremony would be halted and the students dispersed. However, the booing continued as DeVos stated she planned to visit the gravesite of the school’s founder, civil rights activist and daughter of parents who had been slaves, Mary McLeod Bethune.

She made racist comments about HBCUs [Historically Black Colleges and Universities], she doesn’t know anything about us, and she has the nerve to come down here and speak to us … And then she has the nerve to speak about Mary McLeod Bethune’s legacy. What does she know about that?” commented graduating student Donjele Simpson to the Washington Post in regard to DeVos’s appearance at his school. A number of students protesting DeVos’s speech cited the US Education Department’s recent decisions to rescind a number of Obama administration consumer protections for student loan borrowers.

DeVos drew widespread criticism in February when she referred to historically black colleges and universities, such as Bethune-Cookman, as “pioneers of school choice.” Such institutions were created historically out of harsh necessity, primarily in the former slave states, in response to the segregation of universities and colleges and the exclusion of black students. Whether the comment was intended as a provocation or simply displayed gross ignorance, many saw DeVos’s comment as an apology for Jim Crow segregation.

Last week, President Donald Trump indicated he believed federal funding for historically black colleges to be unconstitutional. Trump was widely rebuked for this comment, and declared Sunday his “unwavering support” for such institutions, which, in fact, are increasingly integrated.

The protest at BCU occurred in the general context of growing hostility to the Trump administration, including from among those who voted for him. A new Quinnipiac University poll found Trump’s approval ratings have fallen to 36 percent, with 58 percent of those polled saying Trump’s first months in office are “mainly a failure.”

DeVos tried to save face after her appearance at Bethune-Cookman, releasing a statement Wednesday night which declared that “[o]ne of the hallmarks of higher education, and of democracy, is the ability to converse with and learn from those with whom we disagree… We can focus on differences that might divide us or we can choose to listen, be receptive and learn from other experiences and perspectives.”

The statement echoed comments made by Bethune-Cookman president Jackson, who had defended DeVos’s appearance days earlier in a letter, asserting, “When we seek to shelter our students and campus communities from views that are diametrically opposed to their own, we actually leave our students far less capable of combating those ideas.” Neither DeVos nor Jackson sought to reconcile their supposed support for the principle of the free exchange of ideas with their denunciations of the “uncivil” BCU students who turned out en masse to exercise their right to free speech to combat DeVos’s unpopular ideas.

Among various actions as Education Secretary, DeVos has appointed far-right figures to her department, including Candice Jackson (author of Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine) to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Jackson, who like DeVos has made a career of opposition to public spending for education services, is also an ideological opponent of social equality, who has denounced immigrants and other groups in recent social media comments.

The author also recommends:

Ultra-right libertarian to run the US Education Office of Civil Rights
[18 April 2017]

US education chief Betsy DeVos plots school privatization with venture capitalists: here.

Dutch schools should teach about LGBTQ equality, parliament decides


This video from the Netherlands is called Canal Parade ~ Gay Pride Amsterdam 2015.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Parliament: punish schools that do not teach about LGBTQ equality

Today, 17:17

Parliament wants the government to punish schools that do not teach their student awareness about equal rights for LGBTQ people. The entire House of Representatives, with the exception of VVD,

Main pro ‘free enterprise’ Big Business party

SGP

Fundamentalist Protestant homophobic party

and FVD,

Small far right misogynistic party, inspired by British far rightist Roger Scruton

supported a motion to that effect by Socialist Party MP Van Dijk.

He wants schools that consistently refuse to bring sexual diversity to the attention of students to get financial penalties or administrative action taken. Van Dijk thinks the information contributes to the fight against discrimination.

Mandatory

According to the Inspectorate of Education education about homosexuality is not given on 20 percent of all primary and secondary schools, while this is mandatory since 2012.

Parliament also wants lessons on acceptance of gay people to be required in secondary vocational schools. About forty percent of these schools do not do that now.

Trump against education, demonstrators against Trump


This video from the USA says about itself:

Public (School) Enemy No. 1: Billionaire Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Pick for Education Secretary

1 December 2016

Donald Trump has tapped conservative billionaire Betsy DeVos to serve as Education Secretary. DeVos is the former chair of the Michigan Republican Party and a longtime backer of charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools.

In response, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said, “In nominating DeVos Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America.” Since 1970, the DeVos family has invested at least $200 million in various right-wing causes. DeVos’s father-in-law is the co-founder of Amway and her brother is Erik Prince, founder of the mercenary firm Blackwater. For more, we speak to former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, Center for Media and Democracy executive director Lisa Graves, and elected member of the Detroit Board of Education Tawanna Simpson.

By Esther Galen in the USA:

Trump’s voucher plan and the right-wing campaign to destroy public education

Part one

21 March 2017

President Trump’s budget proposal released Thursday cuts $9.2 billion from Department of Education funding. But there is one funding boost, the only increase in funding for domestic social programs in the entire Trump budget: a $1.4 billion increase for “school choice” programs. This includes $1 billion for the promotion of school vouchers, where families are given a set amount of money, which they can spend on private, charter, religious or even online schools.

Trump proposed $20 billion for school vouchers during his campaign last fall. He did not present any details except to say the funds would come from existing federal dollars spent on education. During his inaugural address, Trump denounced the public school system, saying it was “an education system, flushed with cash” that “leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge.”

The president is determined to accelerate the decades-long campaign, pursued by Democratic and Republican administrations alike, to dismantle public education and funnel even more money into the hands of private business interests. In choosing billionaire Betsy DeVos for secretary of education, Trump has selected someone with a clear record of seeking to destroy public education.

The United States government is in the process of turning back the clock for public education. CEOs of the largest corporations, the Democrats and Republicans, and the courts all agree that society does not have an obligation to provide all students with a high-quality education.

The mantra of “school choice” means that the capitalist market should determine how—and whether—students get educated. Parents, as “consumers,” will have a choice as to where they send their children to be educated and evaluate what they bought. If they’re not happy with the school giving the education they purchased, they can look for another one, as though they were buying a pair of shoes. And of course, just as when people shop, those who are wealthier can afford better products, in this case, schools. The working class and poor will not be able to afford quality education.

While private schools choose what students to admit and keep enrolled, public schools are legally bound to serve all children, including special education, English as a Second Language (ESL) and low-income students. The purpose of vouchers is to starve the public schools of desperately needed resources to finance private and parochial schools.

Trump says he plans to take the $20 billion for vouchers from already existing funds. Will the federal government end Pell Grants to low-income students to go to college ($22 billion in 2016)? Will it cut Title I state grants ($14.9 billion) that help improve learning of low-income elementary and secondary students and provide them with school lunches? Will special education state grants ($11.9 billion) be hit, or Head Start ($9.2 billion), which is technically funded by the Department of Health and Human Services and provides preschool and other family health services to low-income families?

There are many other federal grants to states that may be cut, including funds for School Improvement, Striving Readers, Math and Science Partnerships, and Rural Education.

Currently, public school funding comes from the federal government (10 percent), local government (45 percent, mostly through property taxes) and state government (45 percent). Much of federal funding has been for programs to assist low-income or disabled students. When these funds are ended, it will devastate whole working class communities.

As to state funding, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes, “Most states provide less support per student for elementary and secondary schools—in some cases, much less—than before the Great Recession.”

But far from increasing funds to public schools, vouchers will destroy them. States have been implementing voucher programs since the early 1990s, starting with the first Bush administration and continuing with Clinton, Bush and Obama. All these administrations passed legislation on public education used to undermine public schools.

State voucher programs

Today, 27 states and Washington, D.C., have some sort of voucher program, and some have more than one type, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The vouchers are also called Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), Tax-Credit Scholarships, Individual Tax Credits and Individual Tax Deductions.

Fourteen states and Washington, D.C., have vouchers that give private schools state funding to pay tuition for students, primarily those who are low-income, have special needs or attend so-called poor-performing schools.

Seventeen states, including Indiana and Florida, have tax credit scholarship programs. A nonprofit scholarship-granting organization is formed to collect donations from individuals and/or corporations, who then get a tax credit; the nonprofit gives private school scholarships to eligible students.

Eight states give tax credits or deductions to parents who send their kids to private schools, according to EdChoice. In Indiana and Louisiana, families can deduct tuition on their taxes, while Illinois and Iowa let parents claim a tax credit for their children’s private school tuition.

In five states, including Arizona and Mississippi, education savings accounts let parents choose how to spend the state’s per-pupil allotment for their child’s education—whether it’s putting them in private school or paying for tutoring.

Vouchers in Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program is America’s longest-running private school voucher program, begun in 1990. About 28,200 Milwaukee students now use vouchers to attend private schools. A big spike in attendance occurred in 1998, when the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that families could use their state vouchers at religious schools.

The program has shifted public spending on education in the city. Milwaukee Public Schools will see a $52.1 million loss this school year to pay for its share of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. By 2014, it was expected the total amount of public money spent on vouchers in Milwaukee would surpass $1.7 billion.

Public school enrollment has declined and a fifth of the students who remain are classified as having disabilities, from learning to emotional to physical. Forty-one percent of all private schools that participated in the Milwaukee private school voucher program between 1991 and 2015 have closed.

Milwaukee Public Radio aired a series with many interviews on the voucher program’s 25th anniversary. Milwaukee School Board member Larry Miller, who has been involved with the district for the voucher program’s entire history, said, “It’s transformed the landscape in the sense of it becoming a free-market competition. This program, in my opinion, started as a program for low-income students and has turned into a movement now to dismantle public education. … I feel that the results that we’re seeing now are the results of a failed experiment.”

Barbara Miner, who wrote Lessons from the Heartland, about the history of education in Milwaukee, is a leading critic of the voucher program, saying it blurs the separation of church and state and leaves Milwaukee Public Schools facing the highest hurdles. “Private schools operate by completely different rules than public schools,” she told Milwaukee Public Radio. “They do not have to follow the federal special education law. They do not have to provide bilingual education,” Miner said. “They can kick kids out and there’s no constitutional right to free speech or due process.”

Alan Borsuk, a senior fellow at Marquette Law School and long-time education reporter, reviewed several sets of studies. He was asked, what have the scores shown since 2010? He responded, “The notion that the voucher program would lead to a major step forward for all students in the City of Milwaukee, unfortunately, has not been true.”

The New York Times recently reviewed research assessing student progress in voucher programs compared to public schools. In 2015, researchers published their assessment of the Indiana voucher program, which involved tens of thousands of students under Mike Pence, then the state’s governor. “In mathematics,” they found, “voucher students who transfer to private schools experienced significant losses in achievement. They also saw no improvement in reading.”

More negative results

Researchers found similar results when they studied Louisiana’s voucher program and released the results in February 2016. “Students in the program were predominantly black and from low-income families. They came from public schools that had received poor ratings from the state department of education, based on test scores. For private schools receiving more applicants than they could enroll, the law required that they admit students via lottery, which allowed the researchers to compare lottery winners with those who stayed in public school. They found large negative results in both reading and math.”

Martin West, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, calls the negative effects in Louisiana “as large as any I’ve seen in the literature—not just compared with other voucher studies, but in the history of American education research.”

In June, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank, released a third voucher study financed by the pro-voucher Walton Family Foundation. It focused on a large voucher program in Ohio. “Students who use vouchers to attend private schools have fared worse academically compared to their closely matched peers attending public schools,” the researchers wrote.

To be continued

The sequel to this is here.

With over 630 killed in house fires so far this year. Trump budget proposes to end heating assistance, slash housing program: here.

This video from the USA says about itself:

20 January 2017

Protesters took to downtown Nashville in opposition of President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Trump’s [March 15 2017] visit to Nashville attracted long lines of supporters together with some 2,500 demonstrators protesting his attacks on health care, education and immigrants: here.

The real target of Monday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing was Russia, not the Trump administration: here.

America’s Wars: Business As Usual. U.S. wars and conflicts across the Greater Middle East are being expanded and escalated, 03/21/2017 11:39 am ET: here.

President Trump’s refusal to shake German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s hand during their photo-op in the Oval Office expressed the deepening tensions between the US and Germany: here.