The Texas Public Policy’ Foundation’s Dr. Richard Johnson responded to false claims made during the debate over SB 1, the bill to create education savings accounts, that school choice programs are “based in racism.”

“I’m constantly saddened by minority leaders within the Democrat party whose final battle cries are that of Racism, while intentionally or inadvertently, keeping their boots on the necks of the very people they claim to fight for.  This vile strategy has lost all credibility, even among minorities, and only serves to reinforce a manufactured division between parents and the education system.   The Democrat legislators claim that the roots of the School Choice movement are racist, are not only incorrect, but years of empirical data proves the exact opposite.

“Beholden to the mighty arm and funding of teacher unions and others profiting off our broken education system, which has failed millions of black and brown students in our public schools over the past several decades, Texas Democrats are ignoring the truth – our current system entraps low-income children of color, in schools that are currently failing them, and previously failed their parents and grandparents, simply because they are zoned to a school because of the street they live on.  This system of school zoning, with no regard for a child’s needs or parents’ wishes, perpetuates low educational achievement and the soft bigotry of low expectations placed on our minority children.  Continuing to force our black and brown children through a system that appears to care little for their reading and mathematics abilities, and more about the money in which administrators and others can extract, only to toss them into this cold world with little ability to provide for themselves or their families.

“Prominent civil rights leader, Howard Fuller, bucked his democrat allies in his support for school choice over 30 years ago, despite criticism from academics and organizations, including the NAACP.  His ally in the fight for school choice in Wisconsin, Black Democrat State Rep. Annette Polly Williams said “If you’re drowning and a hand is extended to you, you don’t ask if the hand is attached to a Democrat or a Republican.”

“Recently, Nebraska State Senator, Justin Wayne, a Black Democrat stated, “this is about parent and students wanting something better, wanting to access the American dream.”

“As African American freedom fighter, Booker T. Washington said, ‘If you can’t read, it’s going to be hard to realize your dreams.’  Given our current public education system in Texas is failing to teach 50% of our children to read, with even lower attainment levels in many of our urban, minority-centric schools, continue to lock our children in schools that are not serving them, will continue to set them up to fall short of their dreams.

“We must do better. As minority leaders, I encourage Democrats to consider that we can save our children and set them up for success when we finally provide education freedom to our vulnerable low-income students.  Stop the false claims of “racism” and start fighting for the black and brown kids, who currently can’t read, to have access to better.”