Tea Party Demands Racial Segregation Forever

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There is a line from an old Bob Dylan song that goes:

Steal a little and they throw you in jail
Steal a lot and they make you king.

In today's world you don't even have to really steal a dime and they'll throw you in jail, as Tanya McDowell, a mother of a public school student in Bridgeport, Connecticut can attest.

McDowell, who is homeless, was arrested and charged with larceny recently. She faces 20 years in prison for using her babysitter's address to place her son in the city's Brookside Elementary School kindergarten last fall.

McDowell is the second mother in recent months to face similarly ridiculous charges stemming from the desire to place her child in a public school.

Ohio mom Kelley Williams-Bolar was the subject of a nationwide campaign to free her after being arrested for using her father's home address to place her daughters in one of the school's in a wealthier neighboring school district.

According to ColorLines.com, while the prison sentence against Williams-Bolar was reduced to several days in jail she has been ordered to pay thousands back to the school district and her father faces trial as well.

Why has the desperate act of lying a little in order to provide a better education for your children become criminal?

While some in the media have commented on the how ridiculous the severity of the charges have been, few have noted the real underlying issue at stake here.

Both Williams-Bolar and McDowell are working-class African American mothers. Both understand quite clearly that any hope for social mobility for their children rests on their access to a quality education. And both likely realize that education in America has never been more segregated and unequal in its history.

According to Richard P. Burton, Sr., Director of PROJECT R.E.A.C.H., Inc., racial segregation in schools has created a situation in which "millions of non-white students are locked into 'dropout factory' high schools, where large percentages do not graduate, and few are well prepared for college or a future."

Racial and economic segregation in schools ensures that while families in affluent (mostly white) neighborhoods and communities will recive the lion share of the available resources for education, working-class families (disproportionatley of color) will be consigned to a system that seems to lock them in place permanently.

Even more than 50 years after the Brown vs. Board of education decision in which the Supreme Court banned racial segregation in public schools and ordered states to take steps to correct the problem, persistent racial segregation in cities and housing has ensured that schools have also remained segregated,

And unfortunately there is a terrible history in which white families fought desegregation – not just in the South but in many northern cities as well.

In a recent interview for a Milwaukee news website, education activist Jonathan Kozol noted that this uproar translated into a series of court decisions that effectively "ripped the guts" out of the Supreme Court's 1954 desegregation order.

"So long as poor Black and Latino kids are in separate schools it’s much easier to shortchange those kids in dozens of ways without hurting the children of the privileged, since they’re in different school districts," Kozol added.

So while the union rights of teachers and educators and the proper resources to fund a wholly public system of education remain central to education reform, without racial and economic desegregation, public education will fail to provide equitably for children of families like McDaowell's and Williams-Bolar.

More recently, Tea Party school board members have taken steps to kill a working 11-year old program in Raleigh, North Carolina's Wake County schools that use class-based data to increase the racial integration of its schools.

According to a Washington Post story on the matter, local parents love the program because it had begun to change the school system from economically and racially segregated schools to a more diverse, nationally ranked program.

In their campaign against the program, local Tea Party politicians used racially coded language harkening back to the "segregation forever" rhetoric of the 1960s. They called it "social engineering" and a "forced busing" policy, which is completely false as most students attend schools within five miles of their homes.

One Tea Party school board member even had the nerve to say that racial and economic segregation were good things because they make the public aware of the problem. What?

The Tea Party logic there is that if you solve a problem, people won't know there was a problem – best to create a worse problem so people will be aware of it. The only way to know that segregation exists is to maintain it forever.

It's like the cases of McDowell and Williams-Bolar. Punish two mothers who are struggling to improve their children's lives so people know there is a problem.

Meanwhile the kings of Wall Street – who lied and cheated and threw the well-being of tens of millions of Americans working families into dire jeopardy – are wallowing in the taxpayer-financed bonuses and stock options.

Photo by Phil Roeder/cc by 2.0/Flickr

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  • ATP I am glad you admit the Tea Party is all about irresponsibility. But it is also about birtherism, racial segregation, antipathy to interracial marriage, spitting on Black members of Congress, etc. It's interesting you raise the O.J. conundrum, a recent survey of Teabaggers found 98 percent of them believe most African Americans are like O.J. Simpson

    Posted by Smarter-than-a-teabagger, 04/28/2011 12:05pm (7 years ago)

  • What a hack. I do not know this "tea party" school board member, but projecting his supposed views onto the entire movement is like saying that all blacks want to cut the throats of their ex-spouses because that's what O.J. did. The Tea Party is about irresponsible government spending and the tax burdens those policies create. It has nothing to do with segregation.

    Posted by TP, 04/28/2011 9:53am (7 years ago)

  • The problem is not so simple. It is not simply about funding in the wealthier schools with mostly whites and Asians. I taught in an inner city school, and the white students and Asian students who were in a minority generally did better than their African American and Hispanic counterparts. The key is turning those schools around, making sure students are not truant and holding the parents accountable over there, pushing for them to attend conferences with teachers. The US has the most capitalist system in the Western world, and it favors those who were already well-off and strong culturally, and African Americans have been vulnerable and affirmative action cannot address those problems nor can trying to put African American kids in mostly white schools. The economic ideology reinforces racism, but one can argue that the public schools are really municipal schools, and if you are not part of that capitalist locale and associated with it, people will object. I don't like the system, but you would need more of a Left government that is willing to not simply throw money at inner city schools, but to also make sure students don't drop out. It's not because the schools are poor that kids drop-out. It's not accurate. The system is racist and elitist. I agree.

    Posted by Basil, 04/27/2011 10:28pm (7 years ago)

  • And people claim, "The Tea Party is racist?? Since when?!"

    Please....

    While we cannot prove or say that the teabaggers are ALL racists, there are many videos on YouTube that proves how racist the Teabagger Party, as a whole, can be!

    Posted by Deuce Prez, 04/26/2011 5:22pm (7 years ago)

  • This case is similar to a case in Ohio where an African American mother was sentenced to prison because she placed her child in a school that she deemed to be safer than the one that the child was supposed to attend!

    It is not surprising that the number of discrimination complaints made to the Department of Education has risen. The schools that are most under attack and most underfunded are schools that are located in the inner cities across our nation, where the children are either African American or Latino.

    In my hometown of San Antonio we have a unique if not ugly situation. There are no less than 14 separate and unequal school districts within the metropolitan area of Bexar County. Of course those districts that are thriving are located in the more affluent, more white neighborhoods. If this does not amount to de fact segregation, than I don't know what does!

    Folks, either we wise up, organize and fight back or we will all be facing jail terms as well.

    Posted by Pancho Valdez, 04/26/2011 1:35pm (7 years ago)

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