are two current debates whose outcomes will impact the lives of poor
people of color: reopening schools and the filing and passage of
hundreds of voter suppression bills in Republican-controlled state
legislatures. Ethnic minority communities are rightfully concerned
about these efforts, but a silent, more sinister initiative is being
children of color are being further disadvantaged by actions in plain
sight. As the aforementioned arguments continue unabated, Republican
and Democratic national political leaders have taken actions to
under-fund the K-12 public education of these students.
the American Rescue Act (ARA), a
$1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the 117th United
States Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March
11, 2021, Democratic Majority Leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer, quietly
tucked in $2.75 billion for the support of private schools which is
$800 million more than the $2.67 billion former Education Secretary
Betsy DeVos tried to include in earlier CARES legislation that the
Democrats opposed and blocked.
disturbing is that the House had only included $200 million for these
schools in the legislation it sent to the Senate. Thus, it is
surprising that Schumer took it upon himself to increase that amount
over ten-fold. Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation
of Teachers (AFT), who stated that private schools also deserved this
public funding, aided him in this endeavor.
counterpart, Becky Pringle, President of the National Education
Association (NEA), the nation’s largest teachers’ union,
protested mightily against this massive, unilateral budget revision
by contacting Schumer directly. Her plea fell on deaf ears. She
recognizes that such fiscal modifications are difficult to remove in
parents of children of color secured Biden’s narrow margins of
victory in several key states - Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Wisconsin -
which put him over the top. Without their votes, in these
traditionally Red and Purple states, Donald Trump would have returned
to office, and Biden would not have achieved the two Georgia U.S.
Senate victories that enabled him to sign the ARA.
boxed-in House Democrats and forced them to sign-off on the
legislation or risk the Republicans delaying its passage until after
fast-approaching deadlines for the termination of existing COVID-19
relief. But this tradeoff is being carried on the backs of poor
children of color, many of whom live in large urban school districts
where Weingarten’s union, AFT, represents the overwhelming
majority of teachers.
date, there is very little outcry from Democratic activists, most of
whom are only now becoming aware that this bait and switch occurred.
As knowledge of this double-cross spreads across the progressive
Democratic base, it may spell trouble for get-out-the-vote (GOTV)
plans for the 2022 midterms and the 2024 presidential election.
question is: when are Democrats going to make the interests of its
primary base of color a priority in all of their policy-making as
Republicans are doing for the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Boogaloo
Movement, Neo-Nazis, and other right-wing extremist groups on a daily
basis? Funding for K-12 public education vs. private schools was
supposed to be a red line that contemporary Democrats would not
reducing the funding for those districts - via this more than a
quarter trillion dollar gift to private schools - Democrats are
reneging on a public commitment to their most loyal supporters. The
comprehensive financial aid necessary to upgrade health and safety
precautions in public schools during this once-in-a-century
coronavirus pandemic is lacking.
is a corresponding need for additional money to improve and
supplement instruction for poor students who are failing in remote
instruction as a function of spotty WI-FI access, lack of access to
laptops, over-crowded households (because of informal homelessness),
limited instruction, and students’ mental health decline due to
is na´ve to assume that the resumption of in-person instruction
will resolve the academic lag of poor students that has persisted for
generations in poorly-resourced schools, broken-down school buildings
that have long been ignored and that have systematically contributed
to academic failure - through faulty HVAC systems, lack of
instructional resources, teacher turnover, and ongoing fiscal
post-pandemic education of poor children closely resembles its
pre-pandemic predecessor, and we will make no progress until we
address the systemic inequalities that have been long embedded in
public education. We need to make these adjustments now!