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Press Release

Don’t tell me school choice is racist

Editor’s note: This commentary from Denisha Merriweather, first appeared on the Washington Examiner.
Those who say school choice has racist roots are implying that parents, especially lower-income, black parents, should stay trapped in public schools that have failed their children for decades and continue to do so to this day.
To recount the history of racism in the American education system, one must start at the origin of schooling in America.
Why do we prop up the public education system as a symbol of education equity when it was once the primary mechanism for segregation?
Eventually, the federal government decided to provide support for freed blacks through the Freedmen’s Bureau . The bureau’s role was to help transition African Americans from slavery to freedom. It took responsibility for building all-black public schools, converting black independent schools into public schools, supporting existing independent black schools, and funding for volunteer teachers.
The commission of the Freedmen’s Bureau was short-lived, but the desire for education freedom never waned. James Forman Jr. states that “in the clearest example of nineteenth-century black ‘school choice,’ some blacks continued building private schools even after the Freedmen’s Bureau opened publicly supported schools.”
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