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The Racist Origins of Private School Vouchers

In a letter, (Education Secretary Betsy) DeVos laid out a far less activist philosophy for the civil rights office. | AP Photo

  • As people of faith and conscience, we have the duty to invest in educational equity and protect all our children’s futures. We hope this resource empowers your efforts to ensure that all Americans, regardless of race, gender, class, or ability, are able to secure a quality education.
  • Related: The Bandwagon of Hate: America’s Cancer, Odysseus, Angry Humanist

Claire Markham, Center for American Progress Summer, 2017 | Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has proposed a school reform policy that would provide federal funding for private school voucher systems nationwide. Although proponents of the voucher system claim that it empowers parental choice, they often leave out a troubling history in which vouchers were used to perpetuate a system of racial segregation and discrimination in the South. 


A new issue brief released by the Center for American Progress elaborates on the relationship between racial and economic segregation and the rise of America’s voucher system. In the years following Brown v. Board of Education, white communities used public funds—in the form of vouchers—to relocate their children to private schools. Consequently, students of color found themselves left behind in public schools that lacked proper resources and resulted in barriers to black communities’ economic and social well-being. “Policymakers must consider the origins of vouchers and their impact on segregation and support for public education,” the brief states. “No matter how well intentioned, widespread voucher programs risk exacerbating segregation in schools and leaving the most vulnerable students and the public schools they attend behind.” You may also be interested in this column illustrating six ways Secretary DeVos is enabling discrimination and undermining civil rights. 

Claire Markham, The Faith Team, Center for American Progress

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The Bandwagon of Hate: America’s Cancer, Odysseus, Angry Humanist

  • So here I ask that each of us pull our heads out of those fluffy and, mostly white, clouds of privilege and see the world our choices have created. Stop supporting the status quo with silence and quick indictments of the disenfranchised. Stop changing the subject. Stop complaining about our hurt feelings. Stop listening to everyone except the people who are suffering. We either challenge the system and our long held perceptions of the people it harms or do nothing, and thus, contribute to the collapse.
  • Related: White America's Greatest Delusion: "They Do Not Know It and They Do Not Want to Know It"