Representative Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Education and the Workforce and a panel of distinguished speakers: Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, American Association of School Administrators; Richard D. Kahlenberg, senior fellow, The Century Foundation; Catherine E. Lhamon, chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; and Justin Reid, director, African American Programs, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, spoke recently at a Washington, D.C. based briefing on the racist origins of private school vouchers.
In 1959, five years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling outlawing segregation in schools, Prince Edward County, Virginia, officials chose to close all of the county’s public schools rather than desegregate them. When they were forced by court mandate to make all schools available to black and white students, county officials turned to “tuition grants”—a private school voucher system—to further avoid integration.
At this event, Rep. Bobby Scott and the panelists discussed “The Racist Origins of Private School Vouchers,” which looked at the segregationist policies and actions that led to the implementation of one of the first voucher systems in the country. The panelists also addressed current voucher programs that have led to inequities along racial and socioeconomic lines, as well as various voucher schemes proposed by President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.