Op-ed: If the left really wants diversity, it should follow Arkansas, Florida and other conservative states on income-based school choice

While progressives wring their hands over the supposed death of affirmative action, what’s really dying isn’t the cause of diversity in education, but the ability of America’s elite to virtue…

While progressives wring their hands over the supposed death of affirmative action, what’s really dying isn’t the cause of diversity in education, but the ability of America’s elite to virtue signal that they care.

Because despite what progressives say, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) did not end affirmative action when they found that Harvard University violated the law in the way they implemented an admissions process that illegally excluded Asians on behalf of other people of color.

Nor did they lend a death knell to the cause of “diversity” in education.

SCOTUS simply said that including or excluding certain segments of the population based on race is still illegal, just as it always has been.

Affirmative action was always seen as a temporary, narrowly based, contrivance.  

Even if affirmative action ended, it doesn’t prevent individuals from being able to sue when they are discriminated against on the basis of race.  

Lawsuits have always been a much more effective weapon against racism – and every other complaint in a civil society – than affirmative action programs.   

More to the point, if progressives truly cared about diversity in education, they should look at the diversity experiments going on in states across the country.  

Florida and Arkansas are just two states which have introduced income-based school choice programs that disproportionately help those marginalized people who progressives pretend to care about. 

The programs give first dibs on scholarship to low-income households, so that those households have the ability to make better education choices, by either choosing a private school or a better district, both of which were previously out of reach for them.  

Not surprisingly, real median household income is widely divergent by race and ethnicity.  

According to a survey by the Economic Policy Institute, real median household income among demographics in 2019 was $46,073 (black), $56,113 (Hispanics), $76,057 (white) and $98,174 (Asian). 

While there are a lot of indignities that a marginalized population can suffer, in fact, none is worse or more impactful than a low income.  

We have known for more than two decades that low-income school choice programs help black children get ahead. 

“The researchers determined that African-American students who used a voucher to switch from public to private school scored 6.3 National Percentile Ranks higher on a combined reading/math standardized test than did comparable African-American students who remained in public school,” said a year 2000 report by Brookings, which ironically was co-authored by Harvard University. 

But that’s not all. 

In 2015, Harvard did another study that found minority students who got vouchers were “10 percent more likely to enroll in college and 35 percent more likely than their peers in public school to obtain a bachelor’s degree.” 

That educational voucher programs can help marginalized populations without discriminating by race is one of the reasons such programs have widespread support from Americans.  

“The hypocrisy in America is that so many of the black leaders and policymakers who are adamantly opposed to choice, use it for their own children,” said Howard Fuller, a professor at Marquette University, a former superintendent of the Milwaukee Public Schools, and one of the founders of Milwaukee’s successful school choice program.  

If you truly want to help marginalized populations and foster diversity – the American Way – do it by income and stop talking about race.