This is a classroom in that school, as it looked in the 50s.
I don’t know about you; but that looks pretty damn good, considering what my kids grew up with in Florida.
School segregation and integration are among the hardest, most complex issues in our society — if not the most complex. People don’t even agree on their definitions.
In my experience, human beings want to attend schools with other humans who share their community characteristics; they want ease of access and to avoid busing; they want equality — or advantage — in resources; they (often) want diversity in faculty and fellow students; and they want to be in the majority of a school population.
People want all of this at the same time in the same school. Good luck with that. That is complexity, personified. I’m pretty good at governing; but I’m not that good. And any “solution” will be imperfect at best.
By contrast, what I’m showing you today is not complex — not at all. It’s just hidden — in plain site.
Some crucial thoughts/context about Low Capital Jim Crow Vouchers
Here are a few crucial points of context, as you consider how to react to Low Capital Jim Crow.
1) Low Capital Voucher Jim Crow exists at scale in every county and community in Florida. It’s not a Polk-specific issue.
The Orlando Sentinel’s Pulitzer-deserving “Schools without Rules” reporting makes that clear. It took me about four hours to do the data entry here and sort it. You should do the same in your community. It will show you the same thing. You can search schools by zip code on the SUFS site.
2) Kids are not really “choosing” these Low Capital Jim Crow schools. They’re being herded into them by over-testing and its punishments, particularly the impact of mass 3rd grade retention.
All private schools, voucher and otherwise, are excluded from all Florida’s public school testing and “accountability” measures. Testing is the most crucial marketing weapon vouchers have.
Again, the Sentinel’s reporting is clear. Florida’s political testing program isn’t designed to help your child; it’s marketing designed to serve segregation factory grifters. Sentinel sum up:
Escaping high-stakes testing is such a scholarship selling point that one private school administrator refers to students as “testing refugees.”
There are very very few spots available at Lakeland Christian for test refugees; and I’ll bet they don’t want them anyway and screen them out.
The FTC voucher program has a 61 percent 2-year dropout rate. And a 75-percent 3-year dropout rate. What role do you think the Jeb Bush/Ron DeSantis Low Capital Jim Crow academies play in that?
Florida as a whole has America’s worst state-level test results when measured by growth, if you care about that. No one in power or institutional media will tell you this because of Jeb; but it’s absolutely true. Jeb’s Low Capital Jim Crow voucher academies contribute powerfully to that because of #3.
5) Low Capital Voucher Jim Crow isn’t really a separate, parallel system — also because of #3. Polk charter systems like McKeel and Berkley and Lake Wales Charter and district-run magnet schools are their own separate trees in the education orchard, competing for life and fertilizer. Voucher kids generally don’t go back and forth with fellow “choice” charter and magnet systems because they aren’t wanted in magnet and choice schools and can’t get in.
Low Capital Voucher Jim Crow is more like a fungus on the tree of traditional public education. The kids pass back and forth from compulsory education zoned schools constantly and organically. The voucher programs are parasitic; they live off the public school tree while slowly sickening it. And what they produce themselves is ugly and fetid.
6) One can argue that today’s Low Capital Jim Crow Vouchers are educationally worse than the original. Why would I say that? The only “advantage” for students of historic legal segregation was that talented black teachers were forced to teach in segregated schools. While facilities and resources were substandard compared to white schools, segregated black schools did have a large cadre of excellent, talented teachers who taught students well.
Today, of course, no teacher is forced to teach in a specific school because of his or her race or background. Nor should they be, obviously. Talented black teachers — like talented teachers as a whole — are in massive demand for public schools and private schools with capital. There’s a national teacher shortage, after all. Therefore, there is no captive workforce to staff the Low Capital Jim Crow Voucher Academies. Just cheap computer terminals.
7) One voucher school in Polk County is attempting to replicate the capital of All Saints and Lakeland Christian for the kids of A’kelynn’s Angels — explicitly seeking to provide elite private school capital to kids without capital.
Lakeland’s Academy Prep is funded by the Jenkins Foundation — by the joint largesse of the Barnett/Fancelli families of Publix fame. Roughly 46 of its 76 kids (60 percent) are black.
Yet, failed Florida Voucher Superintendent Doug Tuthill and failed unelected Voucher School Board
Step up for Students make no effort, at all, to distinguish between A’Kelynn’s Angels and Academy Prep — both of which use Step Up vouchers.
And A’Kelynn’s Angels enrolls roughly
as many black children as Academy Prep. I have no idea why Barney and Wesley and Nick and Gregory and Julie tolerate such a waste of their capital from Step Up. “The market decides,” I guess. Doug Tuthill is still getting paid whenever a kid goes to either — and paid a lot. five times (191)
Step up for Students’ publicly available data is unverifiable garbage; but it’s all we have. There is no systemic checking of teacher credentialing or anything else. All information available to parents on the SUFS website is self-reported by the schools themselves. I found a number of oddities and holes in demographic data. Caveat emptor.
9) Democrats should make Doug Tuthill and
Step Up for Students famous in the 2022 governor campaign as the superintendent and unelected school board of the failure factory, low capital, test-marketed, 61-percent drop out rate, Jim Crow academies that poison our state.
That path of argument — like any path of argument — is unlikely to beat DeSantis in 2022 for reasons that have nothing to do with education; but Low Capital Jim Crow Vouchers and Florida’s failed education system are the single most potent weapon available to turn on DeSantis in 2022 and especially when he runs for president afterward, which he will. Florida education will hurt him badly, if used.
Failure to do so is political and moral malpractice. But what else is new? This is Florida.