In a powerful editorial today, “Holder vs. Martin Luther King Jr.,” the Wall Street Journal points out that President Obama’s Justice Department has just “sued to block the educational dreams of minority children in Louisiana.”
Late last week, Justice asked a federal court to stop 34 school districts in the Pelican State from handing out private-school vouchers so kids can escape failing public schools. Mr. Holder’s lawyers claim the voucher program appears “to impede the desegregation progress” required under federal law….
Passed in 2012, Louisiana’s state-wide program guarantees a voucher to students from families with incomes below 250% of poverty and who attend schools graded C or below. The point is to let kids escape the segregation of failed schools, and about 90% of the beneficiaries are black.
These students tried to escape failing schools, but the Obama Justice Department wants them to remain there against their will, hostages to desegregation and “diversity.” The Journal quotes the DOJ complaint complaining that many of those voucher recipients “were in the racial minority at the public school they attended before receiving the voucher.”
In other words, Justice is claiming that the voucher program may be illegal because minority kids made their failing public schools more white by leaving those schools to go to better private schools.
In one of only two specific examples in its footnotes, Justice says that Celilia Primary School (30.1% black) in St. Martin Parish District (46.5% black) lost all of six black voucher recipients. Justice claims the reduction in black students at Celilia increases “the difference between the school’s black student percentage from the district’s and reinforcing the school’s racial identity as a white school in a predominantly black school district.”
In other words — actually, in pretty much the same words — the Obama DOJ is demanding that these students be held captive in their current schools so that the white students in their school can continue to receive the benefit of being exposed to them.
Are any readers old enough to remember when liberals denounced treating people as means and not ends as exploitation? Those long gone and now largely forgotten liberals also objected to the sort of bald quota demanded here.
This sort of liberal exploitation of minorities is, alas, not new. Obama may be practicing it more vehemently than any past president, but he didn’t invent it. Over a decade ago I wrote about the same phenomenon in Diversity And School Transfers: Diversity For Whom?
In two recent cases the Fourth Circuit invalidated diversity-based racial assignment policies, one in Arlington County, Virginia (Tuttle v. Arlington County School Board, 195 F.3d 698 [4th Cir. 1999]), and the other in Montgomery County, Maryland (Eisenberg v. Montgomery County, F.3d 123 [4th Cir. 1999], cert. denied, 529 U.S. 1019 ). In Eisenberg, a white student was denied a transfer to a math and science magnet program because allowing him to leave his current school would have a negative “impact on diversity.” The county created a “diversity profile” of each school, and transfers were routinely denied on the basis of race in order to maintain “diversity.” Revealingly, the county argued that this wasn’t discriminatory because it was common practice to deny transfers for racial reasons to students of all races when the requested transfer would have a negative “impact on diversity.” The Fourth Circuit disagreed, saying that a policy did not cease to be racially discriminatory simply because it was practiced against all races. The court concluded that the county’s policy of promoting diversity by carefully regulating transfers on the basis of race was “mere racial balancing in a pure form.”
An even more revealing case had erupted in bitter controversy in Montgomery County in 1995 when the school board prevented two Asian-American kindergartners from transfering to a one-of-a-kind county French immersion program because of their race. According to a Washington Post article,
The parents of Eleanor Glewwe and Hana Maruyama had sought to enroll the girls in a French immersion program at Maryvale Elementary School in Rockville. But school officials denied their requests, saying their departure from Takoma Park would further deplete the number of Asian students there. [Sept. 14, 1995, p. A1]
One of the parents told the board that there were no more Asians in the school where her daughter wanted to transfer than there were where she was enrolled and thus that allowing her to transfer would not have any negative impact on diversity. Paul L. Vance, the Superintendent, replied to the board, according to the WPost, “that nothing in the school system’s policy permits ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ by hurting the diversity of one school to help it at another.” [Sept. 1, 1995, p. B1]. Public outcry eventaully caused the board to relent.
One other Maryland episode was even more bizarre. The writer Ted Gup wanted a transfer for his adopted son, who was born in Korea. He was currently enrolled in a school that was divided between a Spanish immersion program, which had predominantly white students, and an English program that was 90% minority, including large numbers for whom English was a second language. Gup wanted his son in an English program with native English speakers. The transfer was denied because — you guessed it — there weren’t enough Asians at his school and thus allowing his son to leave would have a “negative impact on diversity.”
The ideologically rigid diversifiers who now dominate the Democratic Party, editorial offices, and academia are, ironically, colorblind, equal opportunity discriminators; they are as willing to discriminate against black students in pursuit of their social engineering goals as they are against whites and Asians.