Left-wing activists liken school closings in minority communities to Jim Crow segregation laws
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a memorable scene from the classic TV comedy “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Debra confronts her brother-in-law, Robert, who’s feeling sorry for himself because he was immobilized after being gored by a bull:
“You know what I think? I think you love that bull. I think you were so happy he found you, because he’s a two-ton excuse for your life! That’s right. You were a victim before that bull. You’ve been a victim your whole life, because there’s nothing easier than playing the victim, is there, Robert?”
While the sitcom used its self-pitying character to generate laughs, there’s nothing funny about seeing real people go through life blaming their self-inflicted miseries on others.
And that’s exactly what’s happening in Washington D.C., where a collection of progressives have filed three civil rights complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights over school closures in Newark (New Jersey), Chicago and New Orleans.
The complaints were filed by officials with the Journey for Justice Alliance – a collection of left-wing organizations that includes state and national teacher unions.
The activists claim that students of color in Newark, Chicago and New Orleans “have been disproportionately affected by school closures and charter-school expansions,” the Washington Post reports.
They argue that Latino and African American students are seeing their neighborhood schools shuttered, and are being forced to attend a charter school or travel lengthy distances to attend a government-run school. The progressive activists claim students are suffering emotionally and academically from being “displaced.”
“In each city, African American children’s hopes of equal educational opportunity are being dashed,” said Judith Browne Dianis, a Journey for Justice Alliance supporter.
Another activist compared school closures in minority communities to segregation.
“This push to close schools in predominantly African American communities is the new Jim Crow,” parent and activist Karran Harper Royal told the Washington Post.
The progressives’ argument goes like this: Local and state governments have starved these schools of financial resources, which makes it impossible for the schools to properly educate students. As a result, parents transfer their children to a charter school, which causes attendance in public (or government) schools to dwindle. That leads to even more cuts and ultimately forces public schools into a death spiral.
It’s a tidy little argument, and a compelling one, too – at least until one learns the truth.
For decades, teacher unions and other labor groups have treated America’s public schools as little more than employment centers for adults.
As a result, school budgets have been bled dry by union contracts that mandate school employees receive automatic and annual pay raises (regardless of performance), free or low-cost health insurance, generous retirement plans and various other pay outs.
School districts were mostly able to meet those selfish and excessive demands, but that’s no longer the case. As a result, district leaders in labor-dominated cities have been forced into cutting staff positions and academic and extracurricular programs for students.
Those labor contracts also stymie student learning, as they include many “Thou Shalt Not” work rules that prevent school leaders from pursuing innovations in the classroom. Parents have responded by sending their children to a better school (if one can be found).
In other words, the unionists and progressives who have decimated the K-12 system and caused school consolidations and closures are now trying to pin the blame on racist school reformers.
Charter schools and voucher schools are not “Jim Crow” schools. On the contrary, they offer hope to millions of kids who have been stuck in failing neighborhood schools with no other options.
Yet the radicals want to convince us just the opposite is true.
It’s despicable behavior, but it illustrates just how desperate and shameless these left-wing zealots have become. Their goal is to get the Obama administration “to halt school closings and stop the spread of charter schools,” the Post reports.
“That seems unlikely for an administration that has consistently promoted the expansion of charters, making it a requirement for states that want to compete for Race to the Top funding or receive a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law,” the Post adds.
Authored by Ben Velderman