Teachers’ unions and some public school activists like to argue school choice is a modern form of segregation, a claim Sen. Tim Scott calls a lie.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation for Teachers (AFT), claimed in a recent interview that school choice is a disguise for racial segregation.
“Those same words that you heard in terms of wanting segregation post-Brown v. Board of Education, those same words you hear today,” Weingarten claimed, according to Fox News. “I was kind of gobsmacked when I was talking with [the] Southern Poverty Law Center, and they showed me the same words – choice, parental rights.”
But Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, current presidential candidate and one of three African-American senators, disagrees.
“I can’t think of anything more actually racist than trapping poor Black kids in the failing schools in these big blue cities dominated by a super-majority of radical progressives who are running the cities and destroying the schools,” Scott told Fox. “It’s so frustrating to hear these liberal lies, hearkening back to a day that no longer exists.”
Further, the demographic data from various school choice programs around the country support Scott, not Weingarten.
The Sunshine State is quickly becoming a school choice hub, with several education savings account (ESA) programs and a tax credit scholarship.
Combined, the four programs serve over 194,000 students.
The 2020-21 Family Empowerment Scholarship evaluation of over 10,000 students reported 35% black students, 36% Hispanic students, and just 25% white students.
A similar evaluation of over 57,000 Tax Credit Scholarship students had 40% black students, 35% Hispanic students and 22% white students.
Last, Florida’s Opportunity Scholarship has 46% black students, 22% Hispanic students and 24% white students.
So while many white students do participate in school choice, it’s hard to swallow the idea that education freedom will bring about segregation – especially when thousands of minority students participate in choice programs.
The ESA program is comprised of 24% black students, 13% Hispanic or multiracial, and 63% white students.
While white students are still the majority, they are actually underrepresented, since 84% of the overall Indiana population is white. Roughly 10% of the population is African American.
Similarly, the Choice Scholarship, which has nearly 45,000 participants, has over 10,000 Hispanic students (19%) even though the state’s population is only 8% Hispanic.
The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), which is widely considered the nation’s first modern day school choice program, launched in 1990 and serves 29,000 students.
The choice program has similar, if not more diverse, racial demographics than the local public school system.
In the 2021-22 school year, MCPC was roughly 48% African American and 34.5% Hispanic, while the public schools were 50% African American and 28% Hispanic, reported School Choice Wisconsin.
Even in New Hampshire, where 93% of the population is white, school choice programs are more diverse than the total population.