Race 2012, Platforms & Ideology

This nation has taken on the inequity of education at every level from K through university as part of the on-going debate. The question we have to ask ourselves is it only poverty that drives the inequity or is there something else at work is there a racial undercurrent, still. It is hard to ask the question, hard to look at the year and think back to the days of Civil Rights marches, sit-ins, busing and finally forced school integration and have to ask; have we really not come any further than this?

There are some things we can see in black and white, there is no question there is a lack of parity. What is not so easy to determine is why. It is easy to say this is pure institutional racism, brush our hands together and move on to the next subject. Is that enough, have we solved the riddle? I don’t think we have, the inequity built into our education system has been with us for a very long time, it is the outcome of how we fund and administer our local schools. It is only natural, eventually, as poverty forces people together into communities, schools along with other services would suffer the consequence of economic decline.

It isn’t just poverty that divides us. Unless we cannot absolutely avoid it, we will always seek out communities where we are comfortable. We will always seek out a place to settle where the people look like us and sound like us.

Ruby Bridges, New Orleans 1960

It is natural, we might not even realize we are doing it; it is our own deep-seated fears and underlying prejudice driving us on, informing our choices. We might not be Racist, we might not be a raging flaming outright Bigot but these are very different animals from carrying that seed of fear and that ember of racial bias. We are by nature Xenophobic; we fear what is different from us.

I am not a Racist!

Except where racism is overt, where the neo-Nazis, KKK and others of their ilk march down city streets decked out in well-pressed sheets or Para-military gear, racism hides behind polite social forms. Since the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 there have been changes in what is accepted in our public discourse regarding race we have even found a racial etiquette, at least until recently. This etiquette though, this burying of the Jim Crow era overtness has given way to new resentments and new racial dog-whistles.

  • Government Intervention
  • Welfare
  • Affirmative Action
  • Title I
  • Drug War

What does all this mean when it comes to education? It is an unfortunate truth, the very communities that have been ripped apart by our failed policies and barely concealed bias, have failing schools. We covertly accept some children, within some communities will not thrive and thus set up the circumstances for them to fail while paying lip service to hoped for success.

I am not going to try to hide my disdain today; the following quotes are taken directly from the GOP Platform, you can read all about their thoughts starting on page 35 [2]:

The Republican Party is the party of fresh and innovative ideas in education.

periodic rigorous assessments on the fundamentals, especially math, science, reading, history, and geography; renewed focus on the Constitution and the writings of the Founding Fathers, and an accurate account of American history that celebrates the birth of this great nation;

We renew our call for replacing “family planning” programs for teens with abstinence education which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior. Abstinence from sexual activity is the only protection that is 100 percent effective against out-of-wedlock pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS when transmitted sexually. It is effective, science-based, and empowers teens to achieve optimal health outcomes and avoid risks of sexual activity.

We support keeping federal funds from being used in mandatory or universal mental health, psychiatric, or socio-emotional screening programs.

Republican Governors have led in the effort to reform our country’s under performing education system, and we applaud these advancements.

Now let me just quickly give some examples of what one Republican Governor has done as part of the reform of his under performing system.

  • Removed Thomas Jefferson from history books as part of the Enlightenment. Why you ask? Well because he was a known Deist who coined the phrase “separation of Church and state”; can’t have that coming out of the mouths of one of our Founding Fathers. He is still in the History Books, obviously can’t remove him completely but he isn’t mentioned as one of the key figures of the Enlightenment.[1]
  • Added a section called the unintended consequences of Affirmative Action. In the meantime, there is a section about the positive aspects of slavery in America and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade is now referred to simply as ‘Atlantic Triangular Trade’. [1]

Can you begin to guess who this genius of Educational reform is? This stellar representative of a GOP Right Wing-nut might be? This would be President? Oh, I won’t hold you in suspense; it is my very own Governor Rick Perry. Only in Texas would they think to screw the pooch of Education this deep, keeping in mind a very large portion of our students are poor, Hispanic or Black.

The GOP promotes school choice, so do I so should we all. The GOP also promotes vouchers and privatization of our education system, here is where the GOP and I part ways. Families with no means to send their children outside of their communities, no transportation, no extra funds for school uniforms will not be in a position to ‘choose’ schools outside of their immediate communities. School choice is only for those with true choices, true means beyond the single ‘voucher’ for tuition and possibly books. The meme of borrowing money from your parents doesn’t begin to touch on what poverty means to those whose entire communities have been decimated by it.

Private industry will not build schools or invest in communities that represent no return on that investment, no profit. What does this mean? It means public funds will be all that remains and will be even more limited so long as we continue to limit public funding to property tax collection. It means after the Unions have been busted, public school teacher ranks have been further demonized and decimated and school text have been bastardized by boards with agendas, our children our future will be left in failing systems with no hope and no future.

Is this Race Based? It is poverty based and has the unintentional effect of further kicking the can down the road, closing the door on dreams and opportunity for those who would like to live the once real American Dream.

Is this Race Based? Perhaps a more important question is this truly unintentional or is it simply the new more polite Jim Crow.

http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_sdi.asp

http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2012/2012006.pdf

http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/acsbr10-05.pdf

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html?_r=0

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/22/education/22texas.html?fta=y

[2] http://whitehouse12.com/republican-party-platform/

http://www.democrats.org/democratic-national-platform#moving-america

Comments

  1. You really make it seem really easy together with your presentation however I to find this matter to be actually something which I feel I might never understand. It kind of feels too complex and extremely huge for me. I am having a look forward on your next publish, I¡¦ll attempt to get the grasp of it!

  2. Hello from another RACE 2012 blogger! Thank you for this post. I’d like to add here that, while much of the Republican platform is hugely different from that of the Democrats, education is one issue on which there is very little difference between the parties and candidates. Romney openly discusses vouchers, while Obama’s deplorable Race To The Top will see the same ends. If I were a single issue voter and education was my deal-breaker, I’d be voting 3rd party in this election, as neither party has a solution that will benefit poor, urban kids. That Dems and progressives have embraced what is now called “reform” is a boon to those on the right who failed to get any traction with vouchers for two decades. But they cleverly changed the language we use when discussing education, successfully vilified teachers and our “failing” public schools, and convinced everyone to get on board with high-stakes testing and value-added assessment for teachers.

    • I don’t disagree the DNC has similar problems though not as pronounced. I believe we have room to push within the DNC, push for real change and stop the bleed within or public systems. I agree the language within the DNC platform is heavily weighted toward vouchers and testing, but I also think the Democrats have done less harm though not enough good.

      It is ultimately on us, all of us to fix what is broken and demand of our local systems the real changes that must take place then push our federal government to support those changes and fund where we don’t have local funding.

  3. Seems as if the GOP likes vouchers. It’s just a way of further detaching and disenfranchising impoverished communities and the elderly. For folk who are all about family values, they sure don’t mind dumping folk off.

    It’s really sad that schools continue to be affected by racial biases by our political figures. If we just took care of our children and the elderly, we would be better for it but what greed and racial resentment rules the day, unfortunately.

    • You are very right my friend, but it seems we care more for demonizing their mothers and fathers than we do about raising up our children. We would rather create a nation of serfs, ignorant and without hope than open the door to opportunity through education no matter the income level, race or marital situation of the parent.

      It grows worse every year and shows the true poverty of this nations heart and soul.

  4. Powerful post, Val. Especially as I am going to head to south central Virginia tomorrow — near Appomattox. That is the birthplace of “Massive Resistance” — the Virginia-wide response to the Brown v. Board of Education decision (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_resistance). A whole generation of black kids got no education.

    The voucher system is today’s equivalent.

    We really need to stop these folks. White House, House and Senate. All the way down to dog catcher.

    • I could not agree more. I know about the Massive Resistance, it is one of the great shames of this nation. There are some great pictures in a site I use for some of my better pics of that era. That may be one of the references for my next Race 2012 post.

      I grow tired, truly weary of this nations ‘polite’ discussion of race. Our belief that racism doesn’t exist any longer.

      • I am here now, in Massive Resistance area. I am heartened by many Obama/Kaine/Douglas signs. I am hopeful.

        But we pretend there are no racial issues in today’s world. We are just kidding ourselves and sooner or later we need to face facts.

        Perhaps, though, things are changing. My formerly lily white family welcomed my son (adopted, Hispanic), my niece’s husband (black) and my nephew’s wife (Indian) without reservation. Things are changing but it may still take additional generations.

        • Maybe, but where I use to believe it would change for the better in my generation all I see is small pockets of change for the better and great pockets of regression. It makes me horribly afraid for our nation.

  5. Reblogged this on TheBrabbleRabble and commented:
    This is the blog I wanted to write, but nobody does it better than Valentine!

  6. Great post there! What we are coming to realise in this country is that having an uneducated class in society is a huge drain on financial resources. High crime rate leads to expensive prisons and policing, bad eating habbits leading to high national health bills etc., If you have a whole generation of undereducated people then they are unemployable. So welfare costs sky-rocket. They don’t have a disposable income and so they cannot consume the goods that we need to sell to each other.

    As Tony Blair said, “tough on crime – tough on the causes of crime” Unfortunatley, he never quite managed the second part – but that is the prinicpal. The causes of crime are poverty, no stake in society, little or no education, enequity leading to anger and hoplessness.

    It just dosen’t make financial sense regardles of the human dimension.

    • I keep wondering Bill, is this truly the unintentional result or is there an underlying intent. Are we not perhaps see the intentional decimation of the middle class in many of our countries that once had thriving economies with populations that were more and more educated with each generation.

      Perhaps the real issue is an educated population is not healthy for those captains of industry. Not profitable for those who would be kings. What we are seeing here is a draw back on social programs, if you are poor tough it is your fault and your problem. If you can’t afford a roof over your head, food to eat, medicine to heal, to bad. At least 46% of our society agree with that position, if Mitt Romney is elected president that will mean a majority agree.

  7. Wow, this is such a thoughtful, comprehensive piece. Excellent work, my blogger teammate. I applaud you. Of course, I must add, this is also depressing. How is it possible to have an entire party living in a different century. They’re reinventing history! Ugh.

    • Monica I agree, how is it possible but more importantly why is it acceptable? I think it is past time to take the gloves off and have some real discussions about what is happening in America today. We cannot afford the path we are on, we can not afford this disintegration of our society. Education is what will save us in the future yet we hold our teachers in disdain and destroy the future of our children. I am both dismayed and sorrowful.

  8. Such an important conversation….

    You forgot to talk about the implications of culture on education…the culture of the impoverished impacts educational outcomes…especially in schools that are not culturally accepting of the values, norms and mores of impoverished communities. Although my specialty is higher education, I DO think that there is a solution to this education gap…however, the leaders (and wannabe leaders) of educational reform aren’t going about it in a meaningful way. Keep up the conversations. The more we have, the more probable truth (and with that truth, solutions) will come forward.

    Excellent post
    (and I like Jefferson, too 🙂

    • Thank you so much for popping in and adding this comment. I didn’t forget, I simply didn’t think about it, honestly I was more focused on poverty and the horrifying gap between the ‘have’ and ‘have not’ which is unfortunately drawn today along race lines to a large extent. Though we are seeing some of those lines become fuzzy as poverty expands.

      You are right, culture is another component of the education issue, this is especially true within insular communities. We have to solve all of this. I believe education is the foundation and solution to building our future and rebuilding our nation. If we don’t focus on making changes and improvements we will lose.

      • I completely agree…and sadly, as the U.S. system is dragging standardized testing into the mix as THE manner of learning outcome measurement, we are frankly screwed. Turning to alternative educational means as “normal” and accepted – such as Waldorf and Montessori – and even some of the new pedagogical philosophies in play at some of the inner-city and country side charter schools, the poverty line will be less defined as learning won’t be measured from a foreign point of view to that of the students who are learning. And yes – we need to make changes. We are losing already. But – I also think that slowly we are going to get somewhere. There aren’t many other options.

        Great post….

  9. I think most people here in Texas are now taking the actions of our extremist state school board much more seriously than just a few years ago. It’s well- documented that, as the second largest purchaser of school text books, after California, Texas’ decisions from an education standpoint can have significant impacts on the nation as a whole. Publishers simply don’t want to have to go state by state. After the school board embarrassed both the state and the nation in the past couple of years with their far right views, Texans no longer respond to the board’s actions with flippant disregard. We can’t afford such a nonchalant attitude. People need to understand that creationism and homophobia aren’t keys to a successful future for our youth. The U.S. already has fallen behind other nations in math and science. That’s not the country that built the strongest middle class in world history and then put a man on the moon.

    • It is unfortunately though the nation that believes compassion is somehow a four letter word. Medical Decision making by others is only wrong if you aren’t a woman. Worse? Ignorance is great just so long as it creates a servant class.

      Poverty and ignorance seems to be something this nation is striving for. We do not seem to be looking to build a new economy with a new workforce capable and ready to go to work within it. Indeed, we seem intent to destroy the middle. Numbers do not lie, poverty is growing and yet those very same people that have had the rug ripped out from under them, who cannot find work, cannot pay their bills and who have lost their future will vote against their own best interest time and again.

  10. We are having similar discussion on the other side of the pond. Good discussion topic, Valentine. You’re certainly on top of your info.

    • Thanks. Education and poverty should never go hand in glove. We as a civilized nation should never tie the two together, but we do. I am ashamed of us. It makes me want to weep.

  11. Perhaps another reason Jefferson is not in favor is because his design of the public school system would have been against voucher system…and that every child would be treated equally and have the opportunity to go to school where they lived. Subjects taught would focus on what they now wish to not teach. Jeffersons writings are those I enjoy the most because he really took the time to provide indepth reasons for each and every action or suggestion…no sound bytes for him or vague ideas without details. I can read his words and never get bored and always come away better for the experience.

    As to the ideology of abstinence only until marriage – illogical and it will fail just like history has proven it does. They seem to have a revisionist way of viewing history – the time period they seek to return (50’s / 60’s) when contraception was bad and sex education in schools (and home) was non-existent – was also a time when tens of thousands of out-of-wedlock births happened each and every year. The denial of the reality is hard to take without wishing to scream out loud at the nonsense.

    Failing to understand history and learn from it – is a perfect formula for repeating the past over and over again – which is also Einsteins definition of insanity if I remember correctly.

    • The funny thing is, about sex ed anyway is the films they showed in schools in the 60’s were quite graphic. Quite age appropriate, even discussed masturbation and that it was normal and natural.

      Jefferson is also one of my favorites.

  12. Excellent post. You have hit the nail on the head. The institutionalized discrimination of our public education system is appalling, and it is an incredible act of short-sightedness on behalf of GOP legislators to dismiss this as a problem that only affects the poor/minority communities. When we ignore the educational needs of entire areas and demographic groups, we are making it easier and more likely for people to continue the cycle of crime, unemployment and government dependence that burdens our entire nation. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, in this case. There is a real urgency to the need for better funding and support for inner-city public schools, and those who refuse to see it are doing far more damage to this country than they realize, whether it is due to real racism or just a more general disregard for the less-fortunate members of our society.

    • The fact that we continue to turn our backs on children, any children is testament to our failure as a society. That we continue to decimate entire generations should make us ashamed, but it doesn’t. All we need to do is read the platforms to realize we pander to the very worst rather than the best.

  13. Difficult but important subject. Some of the low graduation rates where I live are frightening. I think you’re right that it can be very difficult for some parents to “choose” their child’s school. Limitations like transportation issues are not small obstacles to many families. It’s these daily realities that so many politicians don’t recognize as they themselves have never been in–or been exposed to–a similar situation.

    • There are so many limitations to ‘choice’. Most politicians don’t begin to understand the issues, whether inner city or rural the problems in many cases are insurmountable.

      I don’t have an issue with choice, so long as it isn’t the only option. So long as we are also making investment in neighborhood schools and improving public offerings. Let the investment follow the child, let the options expand and lets make certain public schools are as good as private.

  14. But another way … “renewed focus on the Constitution and the writings of the Founding Fathers” actually means using their revisionist interpretation of their preferences … which is far from the intent of the Founding Fathers.

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  1. […] “We might not be Racist, we might not be a raging flaming outright Bigot but these are very different animals from carrying that seed of fear and that ember of racial bias. We are by nature Xenophobic; we fear what is different from us.” – QBG Tilted Tiara […]

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