Are magnet, charter, and vouchers accomplishing the goals that they were created to achieve?

Here is a quote from How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi:

When integrationists use segregation and separation interchangeably, they are using the vocabulary of Jim Crow.

In 1896 The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) in Plessy v. Ferguson said separate but equal was OK. ¹ I think Ibram X Kendi would say that they actually meant segregated since the separation was mandated.  However, the Supreme Court and the policy makers did not do anything to make sure racially segregated public schools were equal to one another. That led to the Supreme Court ruling, in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, that said segregated public schools were now illegal.

However, the problem was that the Supreme Court and the policy makers made no effort to make sure all publicly funded schools were equal.  In Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, SCOTUS ruled that busing was an appropriate remedy for the problem of racial imbalance in schools, even when the imbalance resulted from the selection of students based on geographic proximity to the school rather than from deliberate assignment based on race.

Another blow to equal schools came in 1973 with the SCOTUS opinion in Antonio Independent School district v. Rodriquez. ² The court had the opportunity to rule that all schools won’t be equal if they aren’t properly funded, but they didn’t rule that way. They allowed schools in poorer neighborhoods to receive less funding than schools in richer neighborhoods. They concluded that busing was the answer not adequately funding each neighborhood school.

No one liked forced busing so the hybrid method of voluntary busing (magnet and charters and vouchers) was created. But we need to require that those publicly funded schools outside one’s neighborhood are racially diverse.

Magnet schools were formed to allow Jacksonville to get out of the Federal rules requiring busing to achieve racial diversity. ³ Quote from this article:

The CSA established “a desegregative goal of at least 20% black students and 45% white students” … The Board was required, with community input, to implement and aggressively promote magnet programs as incentives to attract white students to these schools. … The Board was also required to commit $60,000,000 for the “renovation, substantial rehabilitation, or replacement of core city schools.”

Another excerpt from How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi:

The courts have reinforced the legitimacy of integrated White spaces that hoard public resources … To be an antiracist is to champion resource equity by challenging the racist policies that produce resource inequity. … What really made the schools unequal were the dramatically unequal resources provided to them.

Kendi goes on to say that one of the goals of desegregation should be to help the different races get along, to overcome any innate bias against one another, to try to eradicate the hate embedded in the White Supremacists rhetoric.

This was one of the questions JPEF asked the candidates running for a school board position during the forum/debate (Ref 4) :

Do you think magnet and charter schools should be required to have a certain level of racial diversity? If yes, how can that be accomplished?

This is how I would answer but I’m not running:

Magnet schools were formed to allow Jacksonville to get out of the Federal rules requiring busing to achieve racial diversity.  We need to require all charter schools, magnet schools, and private schools that receive voucher money to reflect the racial diversity of the city. Each of those schools (charter, magnet, and voucher funded private schools) need to aggressively recruit students so they can achieve a certain level of racial diversity. Each school should be at least 20% black and at least 20% white. If the school has a magnet program but is predominately attracting kids from the neighborhood, then it isn’t a magnet school.

The law that once required kids to only go to schools in their neighborhood has been abandoned.  Kids can go to any school in the district if they can provide their own transportation but priority is given to the kids in the neighborhood.

Every neighborhood school should have programs in the arts, music, debate, etc. Every neighborhood school should be great! And every neighborhood school should be adequately funded. And every neighborhood school and magnet school should make it a priority to teach what it means to be “a responsible and respectful person, for the purposes of encouraging tolerance of diversity in a pluralistic society and for nurturing and protecting democratic values” per Florida Statute 1003.42 (2)(g). (Ref 5)

I  hope the Florida legislature will pass something similar to SB 184 (Ref 6) next legislative session so that charter schools and private schools receiving voucher money will also have to teach the course required by 1003.42 (2)(g). (Ref 5)

There should be an exception to the racial diversity requirement for magnet schools for kids with special needs since those schools accept kids based on a disability.

If magnet schools and charter schools and vouchers were created to address the desire to ban segregation, then don’t we need guidelines to make sure those schools are racially diverse? If the goal of those “choices” has changed, what are the new goals? How do we determine if they are meeting those new goals?

Quote from a powerful speech by Martin Luther King, Jr (Ref 7):

All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful.

Neighborhood schools can’t be considered equal if neighborhood schools in poorer neighborhoods aren’t adequately funded. As we are trying to learn how to correct the long term negative ramifications of segregation, I hope we don’t destroy the neighborhood school as the privatization movement seems determined to do. (Ref 9) . We need to be clear about our goals so that our actions work to achieve that goal.

Because most public schools are the hubs of their communities, not only for educational engagement but also for civic activity, they are a sacred public trust where Americans become socialized and develop their sense of belonging, identity and purpose. In essence, public schools hold immense symbolic capital. (Ref 8)

It’s difficult to achieve racial diversity in a neighborhood school unless the boundaries are drawn to create racial diversity. The TU Editorial Board opinion piece about scatter housing offers an idea, but would that truly achieve racial diversity? (Ref 10) Or would that just create another avenue for the rich to use taxpayer money to fund their private investments as the charter school movement has done? (Ref 11) What about having zoning restrictions requiring each school zone to have a combination of expensive, moderate, and low income housing?

Ref 1. Link to article about the case:
https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/plessy-v-ferguson

Ref 2. Link to article about Antonio Independent School district v. Rodriquez:
https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/411/1

Ref 3. Link to lawsuit creating magnet schools in Duval County:
https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-11th-circuit/1136224.html

Reference 14 in that article reads:
“Magnet schools, as generally understood, are public schools designed to promote integration by voluntarily drawing students away from their neighborhoods and private schools …”

Ref 4. Link to Duval County School Board Candidate debates sponsored by JPEF:
https://www.jaxpef.org/advocacy-center/school-board-elections

Ref 5. Link to Florida Statute 1003.42 (2)(g)
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=1000-1099/1003/Sections/1003.42.html

Ref 6. Link to 2020-SB 184
https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/184/BillText/Filed/PDF

Ref 7. Link to Martin Luther King, Jr speech:
https://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

Ref 8. Link to the tolerance.org quote:
https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/fall-2019/black-students-and-educators-at-confederatenamed-schools

Ref 9. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2018/05/30/what-and-who-is-fueling-the-movement-to-privatize-public-education-and-why-you-should-care/

Ref 10.  https://www.jacksonville.com/opinion/20200716/scattered-housing

Ref 11. https://medium.com/in-the-public-interest/charter-schools-are-a-hot-real-estate-market-and-thats-bad-for-students-153fe8554bb4

 

 

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