Right-Wing Media Ignore Long-Standing Court Orders To Attack Louisiana School Integration
Blog ››› ››› SERGIO MUNOZ
Continuing right-wing media attacks on the Department of Justice's attempts to protect school integration in Louisiana, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly completely ignored the multiple federal court orders blocking a school voucher plan that may cause re-segregation.
Recently, right-wing media have been ignoring their proclaimed fidelity to the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution by dismissing violations of civil rights law, supposedly out of sympathy for other persons of color unaffected by the racial discrimination in question.
The most prominent example of this paradoxical stance has been right-wing media's strenuous defense of the New York Police Department's (NYPD) stop and frisk policy on behalf of crime victims of color, despite the fact that federal courts have found it unconstitutionally discriminates against millions on the basis of race. This selective disregard for legal requirements when discussing significant civil rights holdings reemerged this week, with the announcement that the Department of Justice agrees with a recent federal court decision that found the school voucher program in Louisiana was not in compliance with a decades-old court order.
On August 27, the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal responded by attacking the Department of Justice's attempt to bring Louisiana back into compliance with multiple desegregation orders potentially violated by the voucher plan, and accused Attorney General Eric Holder of betraying the principles of Martin Luther King Jr. According to the WSJ, "[a] black Attorney General ought to be applauding this attempt to fulfill MLK's dream of equal educational opportunity. His lawsuit turns racial justice on its head."
Fox News has followed this lead by offering ill-informed explanations of the Department of Justice's actions and Louisiana's integration requirements. On the August 29 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly didn't even bother to mention the current court orders or the fact that Louisiana could easily seek authorization from the relevant federal courts for its voucher plan, instead accusing Holder and President Barack Obama of "siding with the left."
O'Reilly gave Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal a platform to pretend "this is all politics. It's all ideology. It's not about these kids." He continued to ask the governor if he thought Holder and Obama "are so cynical that they would say, 'I'm going to throw these kids under the bus because I want to curry favor with those teachers unions who provide us with a lot of money and a lot of support.'" From The O'Reilly Factor:
Even if there were not long-standing desegregation orders pursuant to Brown v. Board of Education that a federal study found the Louisiana voucher program violated, right-wing media are also ignoring the harm of racially segregated education that charter schools can perpetuate. As explained by a 2010 report from The Civil Rights Project at UCLA:
The charter school movement has been a major political success, but it has been a civil rights failure. As the country continues moving steadily toward greater segregation and inequality of education for students of color in schools with lower achievement and graduation rates, the rapid growth of charter schools has been expanding a sector that is even more segregated than the public schools.
Across the country, desegregation opportunities for black students reached their peak about two decades ago, around the same time the achievement gap reached its narrowest point. This reversal, especially losing much of the remarkable achievement of integration in the South, makes it particularly distressing that charter schools enroll a disproportionate share of black students and expose them to the highest level of segregation. Almost a third end up in apartheid schools with zero to one percent white classmates, the very kind of schools that decades of civil rights struggles fought to abolish in the South.
Decades of social science studies find important benefits associated with attending diverse schools, and, conversely, related educational harms in schools where poor and minority students are concentrated. In the recent State of the Union address, the President recognized the persistent link between segregated neighborhoods and schools, saying "In this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than their potential." Ironically, charter schools held an early promise of becoming more integrated than regular public schools because they were not constrained by racially isolating school district boundary lines. This report shows instead that charter schools make up a separate, segregated sector of our already deeply stratified public school system.