Editor’s note: This morning’s post is a response from Step Up For Students’ manager of external affairs Keith Jacobs to a letter to the editor published last week in the Florida Times Union.
The Feb. 14 letter to the editor, “Public schools need to be fully funded,” represents how education choice opponents put antiquated ideologies ahead of the needs of the families they pretend to support. It used buzzwords such as “systemic racism” and “white supremacy” meant to indict education choice. That is historically inaccurate.
Yes, systemic racism has plagued our nation, but not for the reasons the letter communicates. Systemic racism is interwoven into the fabric of public education because it was a linchpin in establishing it over 400 years ago, when only white males were permitted to attend.
“Separate but Equal” denied Blacks and other minorities access to the same educational access and resources their white counterparts had. Even after the landmark decision of Brown v. Board, systemic racism persists today when low-income students of color are denied access to public schools based on their ZIP code and socioeconomic status.
Providing Black families the opportunity to exercise education choice means giving them the chance to opt out of a system that historically has worked against them. Perhaps that’s why surveys repeatedly have shown majority support for education choice among Black parents, usually at higher rates than the general public. Perhaps they know what’s best for their children.
As a Black man, education choice provided me the opportunity to attend the best schools that had seemed unattainable without the financial resources, and become a first-generation college graduate.
Instead of funding systems, we need to fund students, and give their families the choice of how best to educate them.