I entered first grade in 1954. It was a historic year for education in the United States.
That year the U.S. Supreme court ruled that school segregation was illegal. The court found that apartheid schools could never provide equal education to children of color.
In 2016, 62 years after Brown v. Board of Education a U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) report instead found that U.S. schools are quickly becoming more racially segregated than ever.
Black, Hispanic and poor students are increasingly concentrated in what researchers for the GAO called “isolated schools.”
GAO investigators found that from the 2000-2001 to the 2013-2014 school year, both the percentage of K-12 public schools in high-poverty and the percentage comprised of mostly African-American or Hispanic students grew. During that period high poverty, segregated doubled from 7,009 schools to 15,089 schools. The percentage of all schools with so-called racial or socio-economic isolation grew from 9% to 16%.
Researchers define “isolated schools” as those in which 75% or more of students are of the same race or class.
“Isolated schools.” It sounds more benign and passive than calling them segregated. As if nobody did it.
Such schools offered disproportionately fewer math, science and college-prep courses and had higher rates of students who were held back in ninth grade, suspended or expelled.
GAO investigators found, that public charter schools, what new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos calls choice schools, take minority and poor students from larger more diverse public schools and enroll them into less diverse schools.
Investigators found, Hispanic students tended to be “triple segregated” by race, economics and language.
U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat and one of two lawmakers who requested the study, said it “confirms what has long been feared and proves that current barriers against educational equality are eerily similar to those fought during the civil rights movement. There simply can be no excuse for allowing educational apartheid in the 21st century.”
Betsy DeVos says she had never given a moment’s thought to the job of Education secretary. “It was the day after the election that somebody with whom I’ve worked for a number of years actually e‑mailed and said, ‘Would you ever think about Secretary of Education?’ She didn’t respond to the email for a day, but after talking to her husband, Dick, she replied: “I literally have never given it a thought, but if the opportunity ever presented itself, how could I not consider it?”
An opportunity to do what?
An opportunity to destroy the Department of Education and any role it might have in ensuring racial and economic equality in American public schools.
She doesn’t believe there is a federal role in education. DeVos is in charge of dismantling the Department of Education that she was just appointed to head.
She doesn’t believe the GAO report about Jim Crow schools, or doesn’t care what it says.
She is engaged in educational gaslighting.
“I think in some of the areas around protecting students and ensuring safe environments for them, there is a role to play … I mean, when we had segregated schools and when we had a time when, you know, girls weren’t allowed to have the same kind of sports teams — I mean, there have been important inflection points for the federal government to get involved.” But are there any remaining issues like that where the federal government should intervene? “I can’t think of any now,” she replied.