Tag: Unite the Right

On 529s and the Intent of Movements

The other problem with 529s for school choice: Yesterday, Dropout Nation explained why the plan by Congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration to transform 529 higher education savings vehicles to expand…

The other problem with 529s for school choice: Yesterday, Dropout Nation
explained why the plan by Congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration to transform 529 higher education savings vehicles to expand school choice does little for poor and minority communities who lack the incomes and wealth to use them. But the more your editor and others think through the plan itself, the more it becomes clear that it will even harm middle-class families as well as damage efforts to ensure that all children attain higher education they need for success in adulthood.

How is that possible? Start with how 529s currently work — and how the Congressional Republican proposal would pervert it.

When a family contributes to a 529 plan, they are looking to grow the dollars they put in so that at least a portion of higher ed tuition costs are covered. This is done over time by investing contributions of up to $14,000 a year (or $70,000 in one year to cover a five-year period) into mutual funds as well as money market accounts similar to certificates of deposit issued by banks. Over time, those initial dollars (as well as additional contributions over time) should grow thanks to investment growth and interest compounding.

But this isn’t possible if families start tapping 529 accounts to pay for private school tuition costs or even tutoring expenses. Why? Because the more money siphoned off from contributions to elementary and secondary education expenses, the less money will go towards college savings.

Say a family contributes to the full maximum of $14,000 a year. [Most never do.] They may be able to avoid cutting into long-term college savings if they limit K-12 expenses to around $4,000 a year. But the average private school tuition in the United States is $7,700, according to the U.S. Department of Education — and in many places such as Maryland, private-school tuition is even higher. Put simply, the more money spent out of the 529 on private school and tutoring costs, the less money will be saved for college. They also lose out on future investment gains and interest compounding in the process.

Some of these issues would have been avoided if Congressional Republicans chose instead to expand the use of Flexible Spending Accounts — which are used to pay for preschool and child care expenses as well as medical costs — for use to fund private-school tuition and other K-12 expenditures. That move would have been even better for families who already use those plans because those are funded through paycheck withholding and would be supported by the 20 percent federal child care tax credit already in place. But this wasn’t likely proposed.

One reason lies with Heritage Foundation and its education czar, Lindsey Burke, who have been the prime proponents of the 529 expansion. The other lies with the overall intent of Congressional Republicans to pay for the $1.5 trillion tax cut. The proposals in House Resolution 1, along with the 529 transformation, likely have the affect of decimating American higher education. If successful, those moves will damage the futures of children regardless of background to gain knowledge they need for lifelong success.

This effort against higher education includes the proposed elimination of the lifelong learning credit of $2,000 (which is used to by nontraditional collegians to offset the cost of tuition), the $5,250-per-person deduction given to companies that offer higher ed tuition assistance programs to their employees, and changes that would only reduce the percentage of taxpayers who can reduce their tax burdens by itemizing donations to universities and nonprofits from 30 percent to five percent.

Viewed against those other moves, the expansion of the use of 529s for use on K-12 costs would damage higher education by making it even harder for families to save for the tuition costs. Which means that this is an even worse plan for children than even I realized. When you add in all of the other proposed changes to the tax code that also harm families — including the elimination of deductions for medical savings accounts and adoption expenses — the Congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration can be accused of waging war on the efforts of middle-class and even poor families to help their children survive and succeed.

Intent Makes a Movement: One of the most-interesting questions this week was incidentally raised by Columbia University scholar and New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb in his response to an essay by University of Virginia Professor Fred Schauer on whether the White Supremacist protest that led to mayhem and carnage (including the murder of Heather Heyer) last August should lead cities to find ways to restrict the free speech and assembly rights of protestors. That question? How do you distinguish between movements and mobs.

In his piece, Cobb attempts to argue that the difference between a movement and a mob lies with whether the goals are primal or not. From where he sits, the Unite the Right protestors were the latter because their goals are driven by racial bigotry, which makes them primal (based on tribalism that is hard-set in all of us). On that front,  I would argue that he is incorrect. This is because what distinguishes movements from mobs isn’t their goals, but their organization and their intent.

All movements are primal in some way. Movements to end colonialism and oppression, such as Mahatma Gandhi’s effort to end British colonialism of India, are driven by the urge to be free. Those that oppress, such as the Nazis and other 20th-century Fascists (as well as the American White Supremacists off which they partly modeled themselves) appeal to authoritarian instincts.

Even the modern school reform movement, is driven in part by primal urges. In this case, the desire for learning as well as to protect the most-vulnerable, the latter being derivative of the maternal and paternal instincts most parents have for their children. Traditionalists, in turn, are also driven in part by the urge to protect the influence and power they have gained over time.

To dismiss the desire to act on primal instinct as either base or merely a province of mobs is to ignore the noble and ignoble feelings that drive both positive and negative social movements.

What differs a movement from a mob is organization and effort. They are intentional. Which is why what happened in Charlottesville (as well as the White Supremacist rally that happened last month in Shelbyville, Tenn.) are so troubling.

As Vice and other outlets have reported , the new-era White Supremacists behind Charlottesville spent months planning their protests before they finally descended on the Virginia college town. This included discussions on the Daily Stormer and other forums about logistics, messages, even what weapons to bring to the event. Given that they prepared for violence, White Supremacists such as Jason Kessler and Chris Cantwell expected Heyer’s murder, as well as the anticipated that their allies would brutally assault counter-protestors such as DeAndre Harris.

The Unite the Right players, in turn, are part of a larger White Supremacist movement that extends far beyond their numbers that day in Charlottesville. As Buzzfeed noted last month an investigative piece, those ideological and political ties extend to Breitbart, the media outlet controlled by Robert Mercer and Steve Bannon, both of which have played key roles in sustaining the presidential campaign of the current Occupant of the White House and his administration. It also extends to President Donald Trump himself, who put White Supremacists such as Bannon on his White House staff, as well as gave comfort to the Unite the Right crowd after the carnage and mayhem by claiming that that they were “good people”.

Trump and the White Supremacist protestors, in turn, share the same intent: Official state discrimination against Black, Latino, Asian and immigrant men, women, and children. The latter advances this intent through protests, violence, media campaigns, and their own interactions with people Black and Brown. The former and his administration do so through policy, legislation, and executive branch action, all of which has been documented by this publication. In fact, the Trump Administration is merely doing under the business of the White Supremacists that support it.

Mobs don’t have tax-exempt statuses and corporate filings. Movements do.

Put simply, the new-era White Supremacists  end up in Charlottesville and Shelbyville are as intentional as any positive social movement. Nothing they do is accidental or incidental; they intend on relegating poor and minority communities . They may be the opposite of the Black Lives Matter and school reform movements of today. But the new-age White Supremacists are still a movement, one that resembles the Klu Klux Klan during its golden age of 1920s (when it counted at least two million members — ncluding eventual U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black– and actually controlled Indiana’s state government) and the collection of White Citizens Councils, Klan groups, and Southern politicians who opposed the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

So all of us opposed to them, especially those within the school reform movement, must deal seriously with their intent and their organization. We must address the immorality of their beliefs and the anti-intellectualism of their ideas and proposals. Simply dismissing them as a mob, especially for the illiberal (and unacceptable) purpose of stamping out their liberty, will never work.

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Virginia Fails Black Kids

It was seemingly appropriate that White Supremacists marched down on the campus of the University of Virginia last Friday as part of the mayhem and terror they would eventually wage…

It was seemingly appropriate that White Supremacists marched down on the campus of the University of Virginia last Friday as part of the mayhem and terror they would eventually wage against Black people and other minorities. The long march for equality and democracy in America goes through the schoolhouse door in Virginia as much as in any other state.

While Gov. Terry McAuliffe and state legislative leaders can condemn the bigotry of the Unite the Right participants (as well as the words of the current President of the United States), neither they nor us should forget that there is a reason why they came to Virginia in the first place. It isn’t just because of some statue of Robert E. Lee. The last gasp of legal Jim Crow took place in Virginia, when that state’s government replied to the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown with “massive resistance” to school integration. The Old Dominion’s politicians of the time were so opposed to providing equal education (as understood at the time) to Black children that they shut down entire school districts.

The good news is that some things have changed. The bad news? Some things have remained pretty much the same.

Virginia’s Department of Education publishes “School Quality Profiles” on the Internet, easily searchable by school or “division” (district).  These profiles include the percentage of students tested as achieving proficiency in reading, math, science and social studies.  The results are impressive – if you take them on face value.

For example, the Virginia Department of Education judges that 76 percent of eighth grade students are proficient or advanced in reading.  The state broke this down to 84 percent of White, non-Hispanic, students reaching the proficient or advanced level in grade 8 reading during the 2016-17 school year, as did 59 percent of Black students. The 25-percentage-point gap is troubling, but it is nonetheless encouraging that the state’s public schools teach more than half of its Black students to read at the level expected for middle school students.

Decades after Harry Byrd Sr. and his cohorts fought integration and Brown v. Board of Education, the Old Dominion engages in a new form of massive resistance against educating Black children.

But do they?

We can perform a direct comparison at the state level between student learning as assessed and reported by the Department of Education of Virginia and the National Assessment of Educational Progress results for eighth grade reading for the state. NAEP is widely considered “the gold standard” of student assessments.  If there is a difference between assessments, NAEP is to be preferred.

NAEP’s most recent report on grade eight reading for Virginia show that by its standard 44 percent of White students are proficient and above as are 16 percent of Black students.  This indicates that Virginia’s assessments at grade eight for proficiency in reading for White, non-Hispanic, students should be divided in half, those for Black students should be divided by nearly four.

We might, at this point, observe that inflating student learning achievement in this manner is not useful for the students, who are being given the impression that they have skills that half or three-quarters of them do not in fact possess; nor for educators, who look to these assessments for guidance for their efforts; nor for the state legislature and governor, who might wish to use these assessments in their budgetary and other planning.

As a result of these distortions, students may have false expectations for their futures; teachers may base their lesson plans on an incorrect understanding of the tasks to be accomplished; and district administrations and boards of education, as well as the state government, may not appropriate and allocate resources effectively.

Prince Edward County, once an epicenter of Virginia’s opposition to integration, now primarily educates Black children. Badly.

As a matter of fact, in regard to how scarce resources are allocated, Virginia ranks 29th among the states in per pupil expenditures on education and 42nd on expenditures in relation to personal income. These are indications of the state’s commitment, or lack of commitment, to education. Virginia shows a similar lack of investment in the provision of preschool education, for which, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research, it ranks 29th for both access and spending

As far as educational opportunity is concerned, many schools in Virginia distribute opportunities quite inequitably to their students, basing them first on race, then in accordance with family income.  In regards to race, White students are nearly three times as likely to be taught to read proficiently in Virginia’s middle schools as are Black students.

But, it is not enough in Virginia for a student to be White to secure a good education.  It is necessary also to belong to a family that is not poor.  Using the NAEP standards, we find that White students from Virginia families living in or near poverty, and therefore eligible for the National Lunch Program, read at grade level at eighth grade just 20 percent of the time, while other White students, from more prosperous families, read at grade level more than twice as often: 51 percent of the time.

These inequities are compounded for Virginia’s Black students: only 12 percent of those eligible for the National Lunch Program read at or above the proficient level, while twice as many, 25 percent, of those from more prosperous families do so.

The decision by White Supremacists to protest in Charlottesville had less to do with a statue and more with the reminder of Virginia’s legacy of perpetuating the racism they prefer.

A White student from a comparatively prosperous family in Virginia is more than four times as likely to be brought to grade level in eighth grade reading than a Black student from a lower-income family.  A Black student from a comparatively prosperous family in Virginia is more likely to read at or above grade level at eighth grade than a White student eligible for the National Lunch Program. And even an above-average family income is not sufficient to secure three-quarters of affluent Black students the opportunity to read proficiently in middle school.

Virginia has undergone enormous, and accelerating, changes in the decades since Brown and the state’s “massive resistance” to desegregation and educational equity.  It has changed from a uniformly, nearly feudal society, steeped in the heritage of slavery, to one that is highly varied, in parts still agricultural, in others technology-based with a majority of residents who have relocated from the Northeast of the United States.

Educational opportunities are as variable across the state as this picture would indicate. Prince Edward County, in the south-central part of the state, closed its public schools after Brown rather than desegregate them.  The state reports that now 43 percent of the reopened school district’s Black students (who are 57 percent of enrollment) read proficiently in grade 8, which would be 11 percent or 12 percent on the NAEP scale.  The state assessment is of 59 percent for White, non-Hispanic, students, that is, about 30 percent on the NAEP scale.

On the other hand, Fairfax County, in the northern part of the state, a wealthy suburb of Washington, D.C., reports 69 percent of Black students (who are just 10 percent of its enrollment) read proficiently by state standards, which would be 19 percent on NAEP, and 81 percent of White, non-Hispanic, which would be 40 percent on NAEP, read at grade level.

Seven decades after Massive Resistance, Virginia still does poorly in providing high quality education to Black children.

In Richmond, the state capitol (and former capitol of the Confederacy), the state reports that 37 percent of Black students (who are 71 percent of enrollment there) and 85 percent of White, non-Hispanic, students read a the proficient or advanced levels, which translate by national standards to 10 percent of Black students and 43 percent of White, non-Hispanic, students: and to 90 percent of Black students who don’t.

It is, then, not unusual in Virginia for a district to fail to bring nearly 90 percent of its Black students to grade level proficiency in middle school by national standards, while succeeding in this fundamental task for 40 percent of its White, non-Hispanic, students. And it is not now unknown for schools in those parts of the state where old times are nearly forgotten to triple learning opportunities for Black students from the level where the traditions of Jim Crow survive.

Black students moving from Prince Edward County or Richmond to Fairfax would nearly double their opportunity to learn to read proficiently. Moving to a suburban Virginia school system would increase the likelihood of learning to read proficiently for a middle class Black student to 30 percent.

Disparate educational outcomes in Virginia are facilitated by two overlapping types of segregation:  racial and income.  Public schools in Richmond, for example, have a Brown University Index of Dissimilarity of 69 on a scale where 60 or above is considered very highly segregated. The average Black student attends a school in which 77 percent of the students come from poor families and 87 percent are Black.  On the other hand, the Fairfax County Public Schools Dissimilarity Index is just 47 and Black students typically attend schools where just 38 percent of their students from poor families.  A reasonable hypothesis would be that differing educational opportunities for Black students between these districts follow from these differences in the intensity of racial and income segregation.

What must now be done in Virginia is ensure that all children are provided high-quality education.

But why is it that the quality of education available to a student varies with that student’s race and family income?  Part of the answer is that expenditure on that student’s education varies with location and the degrees of segregation found there.

Schools in Virginia, as most elsewhere in the United States, are funded by a locally-based tripartite system of revenue from local, state and federal sources.  In Virginia, state funding is higher for districts with lower amounts of local funding (and, as elsewhere, federal funding varies with poverty levels and other special needs).

In Prince Edward County, per pupil expenditure totals $11,300 per year, more than half of which comes from the state, partially compensating for the very low $3,800 per year from local resources.  In Fairfax County, per pupil expenditure totals $14,200 per year, more than 25 percent higher than that provided to Prince Edward County students.  $10,400 of this comes from local sources (close to the total of Prince Edward County’s expenditure), with just $3,200 from state sources and a negligible amount from federal sources.  Almost 60 percent of Prince Edward County’s students are Black, compared to 10 percent of students in Fairfax County’s schools.

Investment in a Black student’s education increases by a quarter if that student moves from Prince Edward County to Fairfax County, both racial and income segregation dramatically decrease and, according to Raj Chetty’s Equality of Opportunity Project, that student’s chances of reaching the top 20 percent of income distribution, given parents in the bottom 20 percent, doubles.

It is high time for Virginia’s politicians, especially outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe and his successor, to do better by Black children and other vulnerable youth.

Why should total investments in a student’s education, in this increasingly wealthy state, vary with the amount of local taxation revenues? Equalizing per student expenditures across the state to at least the level of Fairfax County would be a major step toward improving educational achievement for Virginia’s students who are the descendants of enslaved Africans, many of whom would have been brought from Africa and sold into slavery by Virginia-based slave traders.

Another factor restricting educational opportunities for Black students in Virginia is the racial attitudes of some school staff.  This can be seen in school discipline data.  Research has convincingly shown that disciplinary actions by school-level staff, such as out-of-school suspensions, are much more dependent on the racial attitudes of teachers and school administrators than on the activities of students.  The latest year for which state-level school discipline data is available from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is 2011-12.

In that year, five percent of White students and three times that proportion, 14 percent, of Black students in Virginia and were given at least one out-of-school suspension.  (This is quite close to the 16 percent figure for Black adults in Virginia who have not completed high school and, perhaps coincidentally, the 16 percent percentage of African-Americans in Virginia who live in poverty.) Throwing a student out of class often begins the process by which that student is prevented from completing their education.

Unequal educational opportunities in elementary and secondary schooling in Virginia culminate in large numbers of Black students being denied high school diplomas.  The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate reported by the state for the 2014-15 school year was 79 percent for Black students, but 90 percent for White students. [The graduation rate of Black students in the Richmond schools is 69 percent, that of White students 90 percent. In Fairfax those rates are 82 percent and 95 percent, respectively.] This

This includes more Black children in robotics as well as in other science and technology classes.

Given that only 16 percent of Black students and 44 percent of White students were reading at grade level in 2011, when they were in eighth grade, it appears that 61-63 percent of graduating Black students in Virginia and about half of graduating White students received their diplomas while having serious deficiencies in their reading skills. This is borne out by the fact that just 17 percent of those African-American students who took the SAT in 2015—and only college-bound students would take that test—met the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark.

[This is before we consider the lack of opportunities for Black children in the Old Dominion to gain college-preparatory education, the subject of previous Dropout Nation analyses.]

It is not “natural” that the allocation of resources should vary from district to district within Virginia—or any other state—depending on local tax revenues.  More equitable systems are not beyond the keen of human intelligence.  Nor is it “natural”—must one say this?—that educational opportunities should be greater for middle class White students than for Black students from lower income families.

It is good that one or two Virginia school districts and some suburbs offer greater educational opportunities for African-American students than are offered elsewhere in the state, even if these are simply the by-products for relatively small minorities of Black students of increased investments in the educations of upper-middle class White children.

It is good to take symbolic steps to erase the vestiges of slavery and Jim Crow.  However, a decision by the governor of Virginia, and its legislature, is needed to change the state’s education system, root and branch, so that educational opportunities are not determined by the color of a student’s skin, by the size of a student’s parents’ bank account, by the location of that student’s school.

Until McAuliffe, his eventual successor, and the state legislature do these things, the responsibility for the lack of educational opportunities for the descendants of enslaved Africans in Virginia remains theirs.

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School Reform’s Time for Choosing

When will Eva Moskowitz disavow her association with the Trump Administration? That is a question. When will Betsy DeVos resign as Secretary of Education? That is also a question. Will…

When will Eva Moskowitz disavow her association with the Trump Administration? That is a question. When will Betsy DeVos resign as Secretary of Education? That is also a question. Will other reformers join Teach For America’s Elisa Villanueva Beard, former Secretaries of Education John King and Arne Duncan, and Democrats for Education Reform President Shavar Jeffries and call out the President of the United States for his bigotry? That question also lurks at the surface.

But the biggest question of all for school reformers who have defended working with this regime in any way is this: What will they do now after the current occupant of the White House made clear yesterday that he is an ally of bigot who want to harm the futures of poor and minority children? After Donald Trump’s defense of Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists, now is what Ronald Reagan would call a time for choosing. All reformers must choose morally and wisely if they want to truly be champions for all children.

As you already know, the demagogue who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue doubled down on a false contention he made three days earlier that White Supremacists participating in last week’s terrorism in Charlottesville, Va. were only partly responsible for the violence that resulted.

The president ignored the facts: Unite the Right participant James Alex Fields’ hit-and-run murder of 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring of other protesters. The assaults and other thuggery by other Neo-Nazis during the mayhem, including the beatdown of Deandre Harris in a parking garage. The evidence that the White Supremacists came to town with arsenals of guns and other weapons. The presence of White Supremacists and militiamen menacingly walking around with semi-automatic weapons in full view. Gun-toting bigots threatening a local synagogue. Instead, Trump went on a tirade that included comparing peaceful civil rights and Black Lives Matter activists to the violent bigots, as well as proclaiming that some of the United the Right protesters were “very fine people”.

The “very nice” bigots Trump talked about beat Deandre Harris during their protests — and murdered a woman as well.

Trump also claimed that the nighttime tiki torch-lit march held by the Unite the Right protesters the night before the rampage — a spectacle reminiscent of Klu Klux Klan rallies and Nazi Party rallies on the Nuremberg parade grounds — as “quiet” and peaceful. As his want, he failed to mention the overwhelming videotaped evidence that the bigots chanted “Death to Jews”, shouted homophobic slurs, loudly declared that White people wouldn’t be “left behind”, and surrounded a Black church where Black Lives Matter activists and others were preparing their counter-protests.

He went even further by expressing his opposition to efforts by civil rights activists and others to remove statues of Confederate leaders such as Robert E. Lee (whose statue in Charlottesville has been targeted for removal by city officials). Why? Because he believes that removing the statues of men who committed treason against this country in order to preserve slavery and oppression was akin to erasing the memory of Founding Fathers such as George Washington, who promoted the ideals of liberty and freedom despite their own moral failings in regards to Black people.

There has been plenty of outrage and condemnations of Trump’s latest statements. But let’s be clear: Nothing is shocking about Trump’s defense of bigotry. This is because he is a bigot himself.

Ever since he began his eventually successful campaign for president, Donald Trump has racked up a long and ignominious record of race-baiting, rank demagoguery and blunt anti-Semitism. This includes accusing Mexican immigrants, undocumented and legal, of being “rapists”; embracing conspiratorial rhetoric from the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion in a speech given a month before his victory; denigrating the family of a dead soldier who was also a Muslim; and accusing Gonzalo Curiel, a federal judge presiding over a case involving one of his business of being biased against him because of his Mexican heritage.

Success Academy’s Eva Moskowitz is among the reformers who must answer for their association with (or silence about) the Trump regime.

Since taking office, Trump has indulged his bigotry, often with the help of his appointees. This includes the executive orders banning Muslims from several countries from entering the country; to the repeal of the Obama Administration’s executive order requiring traditional districts and other public school operators to allow transgendered children to use bathrooms of the sex with which they identify; to the round-ups and deportations of undocumented immigrants who contribute greatly to the nation’s economy.

The president has also refused to back down from his nativist rhetoric. Last month, at a speech in Youngstown, Ohio, Trump took a page out of the bigoted white slavery rhetoric of a century ago by claiming that Mexican emigres were animals who wanted to take young women and “slice them and dice them with a knife because they want them to go through excruciating pain before they die.”

Given his political record, his proud association with bigots — including Breitbart publisher and campaign manager-turned chief adviser Steve Bannon — and the laundry list of alleged racism that dates back to his days running his father’s real estate empire, there is nothing new about Trump’s defense of bigotry. No one should be shocked at this point. Because he has never been dishonest about his immorality.

The nice people Trump aided and comforted yesterday.

The real question lies with how all of us, especially for those in the school reform movement, will deal with Trump now. This matters because everything we do will be viewed now and in the future through how we confront him.

Certainly there have been plenty of reformers who have called out Trump’s bigotry and rank immorality. Jeffries, King, Duncan, along with Teach For America’s Elisa Villanueva Beard, Jonas Chartock of Leading Educators and charter school leaders such as Richard Barth of KIPP have admirably and consistently opposed the Trump Administration’s agenda. Michael Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute also wrote a rather touching piece on Monday that excoriated the bigotry, and announced today that he would no longer be a registered Republican.

But far too often, conservative reformers, school choice advocates and others within the movement have been silent in the face of the administration’s bigotry. The usually-voluble American Enterprise Institute education policy boss Frederick (Rick) Hess, who took time out of his day last month to rip apart a rather demagogic screed about school choice and racism from the usually-sensible (and pro-reform) Center for American Progress, has remained quiet about Trump’s rhetoric. So has Jeanne Allen of Center for Education Reform, who called out American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten’s equally rank demagoguery about choice.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (on right) is one of the reformers who have betrayed their commitment to children by joining common cause with Trump.

Others have been active collaborators with the regime itself. This includes DeVos, who continues to sully her once-stellar reputation as an advocate for expanding school choice for poor and minority children by serving as the president’s education czar, and former 50CAN executive Jason Botel, who serves directly under her. [DeVos further debased herself by refusing to specifically call out Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists in her statement on the events in Charlottesville.]

Then there is Success Academy’s Moskowitz, whose schools serve mostly Black and Latino children. Early on after Trump’s victory, she volunteered early on to work with his administration. Her refusal to distance herself from the regime (along with troubling penchant of Success Academy’s schools to overuse harsh traditional school discipline) is a likely reason why Jeffries resigned from the charter school operator’s board last month.

Before yesterday, those folks could offer up excuses for why they collaborate with the Trump Administration or remain silent about its bigotry. Among them: Because working with the administration can help poor and minority children access high-quality education; and because it is an opportunity to serve their country and not actively support the intent of the administration to do harm to communities black and brown; that Trump’s bigotry has nothing to do with their work on education policy and practice.

This Guardian cartoon has it right.

The excuses were specious — and after the past seven months — incredible even before Trump opened his mouth about Charlottesville for a third time. But now, after he defended bigotry in such a way that brought cheers from demagogues such as former Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, there are no more excuses for silence or collaboration.

As champions for brighter futures for all children, reformers can never tolerate or accept bigotry, state-sanctioned or otherwise. As defenders of the most-vulnerable, reformers cannot stay silent in the face of credible threats to their well-being. As Children of God and members of the Family of Man, reformers cannot sit idly by as an elected official, especially the Leader of the Free World, bloviates, obfuscates, and gives comfort to bigots at expense of our fellow human beings. As Elie Weisel would say, silence is complicity with immorality — and active support of bigoted regimes is immorality itself.

Certainly Archbishop Charles Caput of Philadelphia is right to say that racism (along with other form of bigotry) is “a poison of the soul” that cannot simply be overcome with condemnations alone. Transforming American public education, whose failures, deliberate and otherwise, have condemned the lives of Black and Brown children, is part of draining that pernicious tribalism. But condemnation and active disassociation with those who want to harm our children are two important steps towards that goal.

If reformers can take time out to castigate traditionalists like Weingarten for their sophistry, they can surely muster a few words to call out President Trump for being a White Supremacist and rank demagogue. More importantly, for those working for and with the administration, it is time to walk away from the regime and end all meaningful association with it. Repentance is good for their souls — and for the futures of all children.

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