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Little white girl holding a stack of cash.
What if rich kids could have their own schools without their parents having to pay private school tuition? That's the dream being pursued by a higher-income area of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, where there's a push to secede from a public education system that encompasses poorer, and therefore lower-performing, neighborhoods. When it comes to funding disparities among school districts, Louisiana:
... scored worst in the nation, according to the study. A December report by three LSU economics professors found that breaking up the East Baton Rouge Parish school system would depress total per-pupil spending to $8,870 from $9,635. It would rise to $11,686 in the breakaway district.

Eighty percent of the current district’s students are black, and 82 percent poor enough to qualify for free or reduced school meals. Nyman and other district boosters say a split would set a dire precedent.

“Every affluent community in the state will want to create their own little school system,” said Carnell Washington, president of the East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers.“They are taking money away that would help the entire school system and the entire city.”

Baton Rouge was under a desegregation order until 2007. Less than seven years after it was lifted, this push to peel off a richer, whiter school district gained steam. There have been similar efforts in Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia. Good thing we live in such a self-evidently post-racial society, right?

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:04 PM PST.

Also republished by Louisiana Kossacks, Black Kos community, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If I had my way (10+ / 0-)

    there would only be ONE school district. It would be called The United States of America.

    The world is a den of thieves and night is falling. -Ingmar Bergman

    by Pirogue on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:11:55 PM PST

  •  Separate but equal, n'est pas? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Nothing racist about it, right?

    1. Books are for use.

    by looty on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 01:30:30 PM PST

  •  rich neighborhoods' taxes aren't enough (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PatriciaVa, Odysseus

    If these urban, majority-minority school districts are in such bad shape despite money from affluent white suburbs, then there must be more to it than money.  Obviously removing that money from the districts' budgets will make things worse, but why are they bad in the first place when the money is there?

    Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

    by Visceral on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 02:08:05 PM PST

      •  It actually has more to do with the students. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Be Skeptical, memiller, VClib, nextstep

        I'm not saying it's the students' fault by any means.  But the success of a student is tied more to the socio-economic background of the family than any thing else -- far, far more than the amount of money spent in a school.  

        It's not just about money for the family, either.  It's about involved parents who value education, are educated enough to support their child's learning, and who instill a value in their children that school work is important and take priority over other things.  Children from those kinds of homes have a far better chance of academic success regardless of the amount of money the school system spends on them or what they have in the school library.  

        There are lots of studies out there saying this very thing.

        What's "wrong" with urban, majority-minority schools is that a very large number of students come from homes where any number of the following are present: only one parent so the parent has less time and resources to devote to the child; less educated parents; less value placed on educational success; less ability of those in the home to assist a child's learning for a variety of reasons, less parental involvement in the child's education . . . and so on.  When a child comes from that background, his chances of academic success are greatly lessened, regardless of how much money the school system spends.  

        •  My Dad and some family are exceptions to the (4+ / 0-)

          rule , who grew up very poor but ended up being valedictorians of their graduating classes and receiving college scholarships.

          Many of my sister;s teachers who are poorer have received academic scholarships but then again, some of their parents are very involved , or as much as they can considering they work long hours and often two jobs. But they do encourage their kids.

          One does not have to be able to help kids with homework, so much has to do with showing support, encouraging the kids, believing in the kids and stressing the importance of education.  More than parents having money, the amount of encouragement they give their kids and the more they urge the importance of school achievement and attendance, the better.

          My dad grew up in dire poverty but my grandmother stressed the importance of education as did his coaches and he loved school and excelled

          Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at

          by wishingwell on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 02:37:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  laughably disingenuous (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Aquarius40, bluezen, easmachine

          I see George Zimmer's biggest supporter is back.

          Hey Einstein,

          Here's the deal, for all of the (conservative) hand-wringing that you are doing, guess what?  The question still remains if $$$$ spent per pupil doesn't matter, THEN WHY SHOULD THE WHITES START THEIR OWN SCHOOL DISTRICT?

          Put it this way: you just said the PRIMARY sources of academic success are the OPPOSITE of:

          only one parent so the parent has less time and resources to devote to the child; less educated parents; less value placed on educational success; less ability of those in the home to assist a child's learning for a variety of reasons, less parental involvement in the child's education . . . and so on.  When a child comes from that background, his chances of academic success are greatly lessened, regardless of how much money the school system spends

          So...according to this logic, IF A STUDENT comes from a background with an educated parent, who places value on educational success and can spend the time/resources on education, THEN IT SHOULD NOT MATTER WHERE AND WITH WHOM THE CHILD GOES TO SCHOOL WITH.

          There is an implicit assumption that you DO NOT say in your argument and it is one RIGHT OUT OF THE CONSERVATIVE PLAYBOOK:

          'the 'other' kids don't come from the same background...therefore the other kids won't have the same 'incentive' and therefore the 'other' kids WILL DRAG DOWN MY CHILD.'

          So, what is it: is it true that the REAL factors behind academic success are INDEPENDENT of the $$$'s spent OR is it that the black kids will drag down the quality of the education of the white kids?

          If you pretend that it is the first one - and that's precisely what you've just said - then the BLACK KIDS shouldn't be able to hurt the white kids academic performance.  I mean, the TRUE factors behind academic success do NOT come from $$$'s spent, but on PARENTAL FACTORS that are INDEPENDENT of whether the child is surrounding by white or black kids.  

          Now, you should probably go and root for GZ in his boxing match against DMX.


          •  Facts are stubborn things. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MPociask, AaronInSanDiego

            And there are a lot of studies demonstrating that socio-economic status is probably the biggest predictor of potential student achievement.  It's not an absolute, but on average, there's a definite correlation.

            See, for example, here and here and here and here.  

            The link was first documented by the Coleman Report in 1966, which helped prod the era of busing, because disadvantaged students were found to do better when integrated with students from different socio-economic backgrounds.

            Certainly things like teacher quality can have a significant impact.  

            •  Ah yes, still obfuscating (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bluezen, easmachine

              Hey, you are talking about the OVERALL average, not of the individual.  Moreover, you just cited the Coleman report, which suggests that disadvantaged students were found to do better....GREAT!  You just PROVED MY POINT:

              The rich whites will NOT be affected by going to school with poorer blacks...YET THE WHITES STILL WANT THEIR OWN SCHOOL DISTRICT.

              So, if the 'stubborn facts' indicate that whites can 'pull up' blacks, but blacks do NOT 'pull down' whites, THEN WHY DO THE WHITES WANT THEIR OWN SCHOOL DISTRICT?

              Keep trying.

              •  Those studies say exactly what I said (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                that socio economic background is the biggest predictor.  

                No one ever said that all students react the same -- they obviously don't.  On the average, however, students who come from educated parents, who live in a home where education is valued and parents can assist in education and are involved in education tend to do better.  The Coleman Report said exactly that.  The reaction was to put students who did not come from those kinds of households in schools with students who did, in the hope that the disadvantaged students would benefit from those attitudes toward education that I mentioned.  

                The move to incorporate "St. George," by the way, is about more than the school system.  That section of Baton Rouge doesn't want to be part of the City for several reasons, one of which is that they think they contribute more toward education than is spent on their own children their neighborhood schools.  And that's probably true.  As the diary said,

                A December report by three LSU economics professors found that breaking up the East Baton Rouge Parish school system would depress total per-pupil spending to $8,870 from $9,635. It would rise to $11,686 in the breakaway district.
                The parents who are paying more in taxes (because they are more affluent) want that money to stay to benefit their own children's public schools.   Yes, that's probably very self-centered of them, in not seeing the benefits that educating children generates for society as a whole, but that's part of the reasoning.  
          •  this comment sucks (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            big ones.

            L'enfer, c'est les autres....Jean-Paul Sartre

            by Keith930 on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 04:24:25 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  The single biggest factor that acurately (0+ / 0-)

        forecasts the success of K-12 students is the education of the mother. All other variables pale in comparison.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 07:55:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  what to do with money (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Urban districts that properly use money are not always in that bad a shape.  There is a lot of federal money out there to fund school programs.

      One problem with these separation of districts, and charter schools for that matter, is that not all students cost the same to educate. Certain schools will work to get rid of students that are going to drive the budgets up.  it can be easier to do this in suburban and charter type situations.  These students are then overrepresented in urban schools, which makes it look like they are wasting money.

      Also, in urban school, the students may not have access to the same tools for learning that other students have.  The school therefore might be expected to provide more support, which costs money.  For instance in some district the parents might supply a compute, while in others such a thing has to be supplied by the school

      Obviously racism becomes a factor because the often white parents will ask why they have to pay for the more expensive education of 'those' kids.  Someone like Sarah Palin will at one point say she expected the state to cover all costs for her special needs kid, while at the same time claiming that taxes are too high because we are wasting money on educating everyone special needs kid.

  •  Not just create their own school district (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    they want to create their own town/city. It would take away a lot of money from BR. St George always has been a snobbish area.
    Central did this a few years ago. Bunch of gun toting rednecks in that place. I avoid like the plague.

    El pueblo unido jamás será vencido. The people united will never be defeated

    by mint julep on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 02:42:35 PM PST

  •  happened in utah (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    south salt lake county, with the state legislature's blessing.

    now we have east-side Canyons district, and west-side West Jordan district.  

    Ted Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die…”

    by jlms qkw on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 03:44:29 PM PST

  •  I find the use of a stock photo of a white child (0+ / 0-)

    with a certain self-satisfied smirk on her face while flashing a wad of bills to be manipulative and offensive.  

  •  Its not just money. (0+ / 0-)

    They would likely take away many of the best teachers as well.

    I won't believe corporations are people until Texas executes one. Leo Gerard.

    by tgrshark13 on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 04:54:43 PM PST

  •  They'll say its about "choice" (0+ / 0-)

    as we choose to not pay taxes for  [fill in the blank]

  •  Hat tip to Laura Clausen, who continues (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to amaze me with her Front Page posts.  Labor, jobs, regulation and the lack thereof is where our focus should be.

    She hits the nail on the head every single time.

  •  All of the create a city movements (0+ / 0-)

    around unincorporated North Atlanta suburbs like Dekalb County were specifically started to split schools off from the south metro area in my opinion.
    It's an ugly ride backwards (yes, there's still room back there) for Georgia and anywhere else this horrible stuff spreads.

  •  Let's just cut to the chase (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and have the North and South agree to an amicable divorce. They can have their Christofascist dream, and we can have our secular, social democracy dream. Problem solved.

  •  Louisana (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have a 'White' sister who lived in New Orleans and the surrounding area for 40 years.  She told me that when the 'Blacks' got the right to vote they ruined everything. That seems to be the 'White' sentiment.

    I've known her for 6 decades and never felt she had her head on straight and that proves it for me.

    Segregation will always be what you find  'White' people from this area and the south in general desiring.  There are of course some exceptions.

    I'm not surprised at this behavior at all.  They listen to Rush Limbaugh and cheat on their wives, they are good Church going folks down there.

    "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness," Allen Ginsberg

    by Hermenutic on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 03:57:03 PM PST

  •  See Philly. The Archdiocesan School System is the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    alternative for white folks who don't send their kids to magnet or charter schools.

    Philly population breakdown:  
    White: 37%
    Black: 44%
    Hispanic/Latino: 13%
    Asian: 7%

    Philly Public School District:
    White: 14%
    Black: 53%
    Hispanic/Latino: 19%
    Asian: 8%
    Other: 6%

    All those white kids missing from the public schools are going to the Catholic school system, which is one of the most extensive in the US, even after the shut down and consolidation of many schools.

    To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

    by dizzydean on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 04:29:30 PM PST

  •  There is an online petition (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BeninSC, dp, AaronInSanDiego

    to keep Baton Rouge together. This split would be devastating to our city's economy, education (yes, even more than the current state of things), and sense of community.

  •  i grew up white in jim crow louisiana. after the (0+ / 0-)

    supremes handed down the brown vs boe decision, i remember hearing the same thing from every adult i knew: "our kids will never go to school with n-word."

    times haven't changed.

    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. ~ J.K. Galbraith

    by bluezen on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 05:03:03 PM PST

  •  Segregation...will be reaccomplished (0+ / 0-)

    by the use of publicly-funded charter and private schools. I was around when the public schools were first desegregated in Louisiana....and have heard people planning for the day that their schools could be segregated again. This is just one other attempt to do so...and it will ultimately be successful...cuz, you know, who has the money?

    This whole world's wild at heart and weird on top....Lula

    by anninla on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 05:17:17 PM PST

  •  As a resident of a progressive state (0+ / 0-)

    I'm always stunned when I read stuff like this.  I teach in the largest MD school district (DC suburbs) which has about 200 schools.  We have several parts of our county with multimillion dollar homes that have some of the best schools in the country.  Thank God for them because those ridiculously high property taxes help put extra resources in the part of the county where I teach.  My school is less than 5% white, largely non English speaking and 70% poor.  The wealthy, white parts of the county are able to fund smaller classes and extra academic support teachers in schools like mine.  Our Title I schools are all required to have highly qualified teachers as well--no TFA's here!  I've never even heard a suggestion that the wealthy part of the county should separate.  It just seems like the right thing to do here.

    “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

    by musiclady on Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 09:04:38 PM PST

  •  Most white people (0+ / 0-)

    out side the St. G area will be surprised to find that they don't make enough money to move in the new city.

  •  This is the (0+ / 0-)

    ultimate in cutting of your nose to spite your face.

    Modern societies need educated citizens more then every before. De-funding or underfunding education systems will have a profoundly negative long term impact for short term gain.

    It is short sighted in the extreme.

  •  My Great Grandfather (0+ / 0-)

    Taught 8 grades in a one room school house in Western North Carolina after returning home from France after WWI. My Grandmother attended Winston-Salem Teachers College, my mother taught in public schools for 35 years. I have taught briefly at Community colleges. Both of my Daughters are scientists.

    That being said, the one thing that all successful students have is the expectation of success. Many of our black students, particularly those living in poverty and instability, have ready made excuses for failure. The soft bigotry of low expectations permeates many classrooms and becomes a stumbling block for young minds. We have to raise our expectations. Sure, we must fight for funding that is fair, but funding doesn't shape young minds for success. Sitting next to white kids may keep the money in the district, but it won't teach you algebra or biology.

    If we want to see our children become educated, we have to first instill in them the knowledge that they are equipped to learn and EXPECTED to learn and to perform at a high level. There is no excuse for black children who exhibit more intelligence and ability than white children BEFORE entering school to fall behind them after a few years in the public system.

    "It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen."

    by easmachine on Sun Feb 09, 2014 at 10:45:30 AM PST

  •  Minority traits? (0+ / 0-)

    It is all to easy to ascribe traits to various minority groups, but it seems to happen in this type of discussion, unfortunately.

    My son, who is a member of a minority group, teaches in a low income mostly minority grade school. He says that one minority group of kids seem to usually have  fathers show up for the parent teacher conferences, expressing high expectations for their kids. Yet these kids are very poor, usually don't hear English in their homes, and rarely have books in the homes. So they initially come to school behind in English skills.

    Another group is also poor, the parents only speak English, but they aren't as likely to show up or show so much support or expectations at the conferences. The parents are sometimes at odds with the district over behavior or expectations. In general, my son says these kids aren't pushed to achieve.

    I hate to see my son making racial/ethnic generalizations, especially given that as minority people, we've been on the receiving end of that. But for sure, he has seen that CULTURE not just race or poverty makes a difference. He has said thanks many times that our family has valued education. I don't know any other way to be. My kids and their spouses have a boatload of degrees.

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