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School Vouchers and Racist Roots

* Kenneth Khachigian’s Dec. 7 column, “School Choice Is Civil Rights Fight of Today,” conveniently fails to mention that vouchers and so-called choice have racist roots as a strategy to get around the civil right of integrated schools.

The call for vouchers first arose in 1954 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public schools must be desegregated.

White flight to private schools resulted from the ruling, but whites soon returned to public schools. Many whites found they couldn’t afford private schools. That discovery resulted in the voucher idea as a way of keeping white kids out of integrated schools.

Today, this remains the underlying but unspoken reason behind the call for vouchers and so-called choice.

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One of the key tools for sabotaging public schools has been at-large elections, which permit small groups of extremists to elect all their candidates to school boards. This strategy is set forth in the 1986 book about public schools, “The Children Trap.” It states, “Our goal is not to make public schools better . . . the goal is to hamper them--to shut down the public schools, not in some revolutionary way, but step by step, school by school, district by district.”

Even Gov. Pete Wilson’s seemingly benign move to reduce class sizes supports this plan to undermine public schools.

By doing this suddenly without any planning to have credentialed teachers ready to go into the classrooms, Wilson created a situation where public schools take the blame for not having qualified teachers.

The Pilgrims of the Massachusetts Bay Colony established tax-supported public schools in 1647 as the best way to assure that as our nation attracted citizens from diverse nations, they would all eventually share common values taught to them in a shared public school system.

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If the racists among us are allowed to continue their secret assault on America’s public schools, our nation will grow ever more divided. We must remember: “United we stand, divided we fall.”

JOHN ROSSMANN

Tustin


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