Wednesday, May 11, 2016

It's Government Gone Goofy Time in America ... Racial Balance, Neighborhoods, Academics and School Choice

Common sense isn't very commonly used throughout American government these days, and that's particularly true when the politicians and bureaucrats substitute their 'wisdom' for that of We the People by putting in place hard and fast Government Gone Goofy (GGG) rules applied universally and without thought. That's pretty much the situation in which too many of us find ourselves today.

Thus, it's no wonder that We the People are fed up with the way things are. Although we're mad as hell, we keep getting the short end of the stick when it comes to public policies that are ill suited for a free and self governing society.

Government gone goofy is something we're seeing more and more of these days. And just when it appears that our esteemed presidential contestants Donald, Hillary and Bernie have totally taken over the goofiness, along comes a local institution, apparently well meaning, that steals the stage.

First, a brief background --- A 9-year-old-boy is a great student who is performing extremely well academically at a charter school. His family moves due to wanting to live and raise the kids in a safe neighborhood.

The charter school is in the old neighborhood and seeking to better balance its student body racially. The boy is an African-American whose Mother will happily provide the boy's transportation to and from the charter school he attends.

So what's the problem, you ask? Well, the boy is being prevented from remaining enrolled at that school due to his race and by moving to the new and safer neighborhood.

School choice, anyone? Because that would be an easy and effective answer to this easily answerable problem of the GGG's creation.

A St. Louis Desegregation Policy That Segregates is subtitled 'If La'Shieka White's 9-year-old-son weren't African-American, next year he'd still be attending the school he likes:'

"The landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education striking down state-sponsored racial segregation is now more than six decades old. But if you think that black children can no longer be turned away from a school because of their race, then you’re probably unfamiliar with La’Shieka White and her 9-year-old son Edmund.

Edmund is a third-grader at Gateway Science Academy, a charter school in south St. Louis that he has attended since kindergarten and where he maintains a 3.83 grade point average. Ms. White, who moved to St. Louis from Davenport, Iowa, five years ago, told me that she and her husband chose a charter school because the traditional public schools in the city were in such awful shape that they weren’t fully accredited by the state.

The Whites were thrilled with Gateway but not with the neighborhood where they were living. “There was a lot of crime, break-ins. You heard gunshots all the time,” Ms. White explained.... "We wanted a safer neighborhood.”. . .

In February, the family purchased a home in a nearby suburb. Asked to describe her new surroundings, Ms. White began with words like “safe” and “quiet.”. . .

Understandably, the family had no interest in pulling Edmund out of a school where he was thriving. Gateway is located 10 minutes from the nonprofit where Ms. White works, so transportation to and from school wouldn’t be an issue. St. Louis County, where the Whites now live, participates in a school-transfer program with the city that derives from a 1980 federal court ruling that the city and county were maintaining racially segregated school systems. Ms. White checked with Gateway to make sure that Edmund qualified for the program.

The family received an email reply from the school. It said that Edmund would not be able to attend the school next year due to the transfer program guidelines, which were attached. “The guidelines said that if you’re African-American, you can’t come back to the school,” Ms. White said. “I couldn’t believe it. I said to myself, maybe I’m reading this wrong. Then I called the principal and said, ‘You do realize this says Edmond can’t come to the school because he’s black, right?’ ”

Ms. White wasn’t misreading the guidelines. The goal of the transfer program, according to Missouri’s education department, is “to try to balance the racial makeup of the city and county schools.” To achieve this objective, the school districts devised an overtly race-conscious plan: Only black kids living in the city are permitted to transfer to schools located in the county, and only non-black kids living in the county are allowed to transfer to schools located in the city. If Edmund were white or Asian or any race other than black, he could continue at Gateway while living outside of the city. Because he’s black, he can’t.

Gateway wants Edmund to stay, and the school told his mother that they would work to rectify the matter. But Ms. White isn’t the patient type. “I talked it over with my husband and at first we were going to let it go, since he would still be in a good school district in the new neighborhood,” she told me. “Then it hit me. There’s no way this is right. I just broke down crying and thinking, how am I going to tell my 9-year-old that he can’t go back to the school, not because we moved but because of his skin color.”

Ms. White started a petition in February. Within three days it had 1,000 signatures. Now it has more than 134,000. Last week the family sued the organization of superintendents that administers the transfer program. Filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a public-interest law firm, the suit alleges that the race-based transfer restrictions are unconstitutional discrimination.

The superintendents haven’t officially replied to the lawsuit, so we don’t know how far officials will go to keep Edmund out of the school of his choice because he’s black. But if racial balance is the goal, it’s worth noting that Gateway is a predominantly white school. When a desegregation policy is having the opposite effect, maybe it’s outlived its usefulness."

Summing Up

GGG prevails throughout much of America these days. It's in our legislative halls, administrative agencies and in our schools.

As a result, and in the various well intentioned attempts at being politically correct, too often we get boneheaded decisions and policies which make America weaker. That's what is happening here.

The Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education eliminated government sanctioned segregated schooling, or at least that was the plan.

Yet today far too many of our schools aren't really color blind at all. Academic performance takes a backseat to racial balance and political correctness.

Well intentioned and misguided government policies often achieve unintended consequences, but the domination of teachers' unions in our system of public education is the proximate cause of a lack of school choice for parents when seeking a solid education for their children.

School choice and vouchers for one and all would eliminate these types of misguided government rules and enable parents and kids to make our own 'mistakes' or correct choices, as the case may be.

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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