The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), a publicly-funded pro education establishment group, made an unusual change to its mission statement that raises an interesting question.
Over the weekend, TASB added a new charge to its statement of beliefs, according to Austin ISD trustee Lynn Boswell, that targets the latest cause de jour: systemic racism. The group’s amended platform now includes the following:
- “We believe in and are committed to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion; promoting dignity and mutual respect; striving to eradicate systemic racism; and providing opportunity for all.” [emphasis mine]
Rooting out racism where it concretely manifests is laudable, but TASB’s endeavor to eradicate systemic racism is a curious thing. After all, the group has long been a guardian of the status quo, rising to defend the education establishment’s interests at every turn. But now it appears that defense has helped perpetuate a bad system, if its latest charge is to be believed.
And so, if the system is riddled through with racism, then logic dictates that it must undergo radical change. Which raises the question: What might that look like?
One idea long promoted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation is to provide parents and students with school choice, which would see funding follow the student instead of the system. Such a reform would drastically improve the education environment as institutions began competing for students, and people began voting with their feet. It’s a change that will benefit every child, but it holds particular promise for low-income minority students who are right now trapped in failing government schools.
The fact that some students, mostly in urban environments, can’t escape broken schools was indirectly brought to the forefront by the Houston Chronicle which, over the weekend, noted the dismal state of affairs in Houston ISD, one the state’s largest and worst performing school districts.
Per the Chronicle:
“…Houston ISD has 48 schools, of its 276 total schools, that are graded D or F by the Texas Education Agency and mentioned that 95 percent of the students in those 48 schools are economically disadvantaged and 96 percent are students of color.”
The figures are striking, both in terms of the widespread failure underway and its outsized impact on students of color. If there is such a thing as systemic racism—and I don’t believe there is—then this is surely evidence of it.
Whether or not systemic racism exists, it’s obvious that the status quo is failing low-income minority students. It has them trapped in collapsed institutions with no way out. If groups like TASB want to improve the fortunes of this demographic, then it’s time get behind school choice.