For people who claim to oppose systemic racism, Democrats seem to be keen on it when it involves educating black children. The school choice issue has grown as a prevalent topic of discussion on the national stage as parents of all ethnicities seek educational alternatives to public institutions.
As controversies over restrictive COVID-19 policies, the infusion of progressive ideas into classrooms, and the declining quality of education persist, many are fleeing the public school system. Black parents are among them. But even though African Americans overwhelmingly favor educational alternatives, progressives appear passionately against allowing them and any others to choose where and how their kids are educated.
Blacks and School Choice
Virginia Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears made an appearance on Fox News’ Sunday Night in America in which she characterized school choice for black parents as a civil rights issue. Host Trey Gowdy observed that parents are interested in providing more educational options for parents while President Joe Biden is more fixated on currying favor with the hard left by canceling school loan debt for college students.
Sears explained that black parents are forced to confront the teachers’ unions to obtain a better education for their children. “People who look like me say it’s about time we have that same ability as everybody else because the other side, unfortunately, is using education as a political weapon. But, as a parent, there’s only one question: is my child learning? That’s it. Full stop. Is my child learning, because with a good education my child will have a future, will have a hope, will be able to create generational wealth,” she said.
Sears then argued that the battle over school choice is now the new Brown v. Board of Education for black families. She said:
“This, to me, is the new fight in the Brown vs. Board of Education. Because what was that about? That was about a parent’s ability to choose the best school for the child. And here we are, 50-something years later, and we’re still making that request. Actually, we’re not requesting it anymore. We’re going to get it. The Democrats are not going to keep using this as a wedge to drive us against each other.”
If recent polling is any indication, many black families agree with Sears’ assessment.
How Do Black Parents Feel About School Choice?
As they rail against the dangers of allowing parents to decide where they want their kids educated, progressives tend to avoid an uncomfortable truth: Most black people want school choice. Beck Research, a Democratic polling organization, published a study showing that a whopping 74% of African Americans are in favor of expanding educational options. About 71% of Latinos indicated similar views.
These findings aren’t anything new. Even surveys from years ago reveal how much black Americans desire school choice. In 2015, the Black Alliance for Education Options released results showing that “more than six in ten blacks in Alabama, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Tennessee support school vouchers.”
One would be hard-pressed to find a study, survey, or poll showing that a majority of African Americans are against school choice.
Such findings raise a serious question: Why would progressives be so virulently against the idea that black parents be empowered to make their own choices about their children’s learning? After all, these are the folks who constantly virtue-signal on the airwaves and interwebs about how deeply they care about the plight of African Americans.
The blunt reality is that progressives appear to have much in common with those who promoted “separate but equal” segregation during the Jim Crow era. Those laws ensured that black children received a subpar education when compared to what white children were afforded. School choice is a viable way to decrease racial disparities in education, but progressives and teachers’ unions are desperately trying to make sure the government decides where and how children should be taught.
But despite the efforts of the anti-school-choice crowd, some states are passing, or at least considering, legislation designed to give parents more options. A few weeks ago, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed into law one of the nation’s most comprehensive vouchers legislation, a move highly praised by those who favor having government money follow the child rather than the systems. If this trend continues, progressives might be disappointed to find that parents of all colors will be playing an important role in selecting schools for their children.