E.J. Dione says that he’s willing to consider vouchers, even though “the notion that vouchers would create a large supply of new schools is nonsense”. Orrin Judd points out that this illustrates that “Democrats, despite Bill Clinton’s best efforts, don’t really believe in free markets”. Judd also mentions “Republicans’ fear of black kids invading the white suburban schools”, which is the point I want to briefly comment on.
While I would agree that there is a residual bias against poor, minority children among the affulent suburbanites, I think that could have been far more easily overcome it wasn’t for the bitter scars of forced bussing. For instance, the existence of vouchers wouldn’t of itself make any difference in how many non-residents would get in to existing public schools. In fact, the existence of vouchers would likely drain much of the support that proponents of bussing currently enjoy, as why ship your kid across town for an hour when you can get into a good private school nearby?
This combines toxically with the current PC orientation of the public school monopoly. The suburban parents observed that discpline became much harder once minority children were admitted to the schools. This was, in my view, primarily because the advocates of bussing saw any imposition on the bussed children as oppression. Kids are pretty quick to pick up that kind of thing. Anecdotally, I have an associate who does volunteer teaching at a local school. She’s been told that if a minority child gets up and leaves the class at any time, it’s just that minority children need “special break time”. This has, of course, destroyed discpline in the class because whenever a minority child gets bored or just doesn’t want to pay attention, he just walks off. It’s the soft bigotry of low expectations once again which has now contributed to prevent real educational opportunity for poor urban children.