SADOW: The DOJ’s Desegregation Stupidity

As if anyone needed more confirmation of the intellectual poverty and real agenda of the political left in America today, witness the Democrat Pres. Barack Obama-controlled Department of Justice’s asinine request that federal courts review any placements of students under Louisiana’s scholarship voucher program.

DOJ has asked that courts that have any jurisdiction over desegregation orders concerning Louisiana school districts to have the power to approve or deny actions regarding the state’s voucher program. This program allows for students from low-income families attending average to failing schools, with preference given to students attending failing schools, to have the state pay tuition up to a certain amount for them to attend other, mainly private, schools at their request contingent on availability of slots. Such underperforming schools exist in at least 22 of the 34 districts under these orders, where the federal government wants courts to be able to halt families’ access to voucher use if this would have the effect of increasing the proportion of the majority race at that school.

Understanding the stupidity of this policy begins at the very reason why courts intervened in these instances: because there had been a history of racial discrimination in them, as evidenced by the presence of nearly or entirely all-white or all-black schools in them with rules specifically creating this. That is, policy-makers made a conscious decision to create these mono-racial schools because they intended to put black children into inferior schools, that even if these schools were not inferior inherently this discriminated, and that the presence of such schools in such districts today presumes, without exculpatory evidence, that this intentional discrimination continues. These practices are considered odious because they shortchange black children’s educational opportunities, and therefore life prospects.

Applying this worldview in isolation to the voucher policy, this means if in a majority black, underperforming school disproportionately low-income whites use the voucher program – even if far more black children in absolute numbers at that school also do so – then this has the effect of increasing the percentage of blacks in the school. Accordingly, this can be used to show discriminatory intent, and a court could block this on that basis.

Using Ouachita Parish as an example, which is one of the largest districts affected by this request, its Robinson Elementary in Monroe is graded D, meaning its students would be eligible, pending availability, for the program, and a number would be with 96.9 percent of them eligible for the Title 1 free-reduced lunch program. The school’s racial breakdown of its roughly 480 students is 2.1 percent white, 97.9 percent black. Let’s say 40 students from it were able to secure vouchers to Monroe’s Catholic elementary school Our Lady of Fatima, 36 black and four white (keeping with the state statistic that 91 percent of all voucher users are black children), and attendance remained the same. That means its ratio would change to 1.4 percent white, 98.6 percent black.

For this, according to DOJ a court could declare the entire district in violation, because the voucher program had the effect of increasing the proportion of black children at the school to become even higher. Never mind that disproportionately (nine times the number of) black children than white ones would benefit from a program designed to improve their educational chances. Never mind that the choice was not made by the district to increase this proportion, but by the separate and entirely voluntary decisions mostly of black families.

Yet there are those who would be itching to call this a resegregation of schools, despite the fact that it achieves the opposite of segregation’s goal to put black children in an inferior learning environment and that policy-makers, through drawing of district boundaries or other intrusive practices, had no chance even to express intentional segregation as it was voluntary choices made by families only that brought this about. Think about the fantastic nature of what passes as cognition behind the equation they impute here – more black children given a better chance to succeed equals racist punishing of black children generally.

And there’s deep irony in all of this, for one motivation decades ago when desegregation began to roll across the state in white families sending children to private schools was to avoid desegregated public schools. Yet because of the very high proportion of black students among voucher users, this actually has the effect of increasing minority populations generally at private schools, which typically have few minority students. Yet now DOJ wants to increase the possibility that this doesn’t happen.

But to many liberals, DOJ’s stance is perfectly reasonable, because their agenda has nothing to do with helping the individual and everything to do with using the individual to further their own aims. It’s more important to them to maintain the Soviet-style monopoly model of education than to facilitate choice and competition because their model unchallenged makes it easier to mold individuals they can control and to maximize control of resources by government by continuing to pump taxpayer dollars into schools no matter how poorly they do. That’s how they can withstand the cognitive dissonance produced by the Alice-in-Wonderland assertion now propagated by DOJ that better educational opportunities are racist.

While that view may be good enough for the ideologues, those who can think for themselves understand that when one child has a better chance to learn, all children are better off. Maybe the adults who were failing them won’t be when they find their subsidies cut on the basis of their poor performances, but society as a whole will be. And free thinkers refuse to go along with the face absurdity proponents hope that courts essentially would adopt, that greater school choice is by definition racist.

In reality, not many districts would be affected by this, for only a handful even have providers geographically available to service these students, and the voluntary family choices made will vary so as not to guarantee schools would become more mono-racial. But it would be entirely noxious to common sense and good public policy to allow courts in even one instance to have power to veto the decisions of families and thereby cancel the salutary effects of the program in order to support some illogical conceptualization of what is negatively discriminatory. Louisiana and all those who care about children need to fight this.

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