Luke Rosiak, Daily Wire, October 30, 2021
A review of Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Terry McAuliffe’s education platform shows that he aims to take away what is perhaps the biggest choice parents currently have when it comes to their children’s education: The ability to choose a school by buying a home in a neighborhood that is zoned for it.
McAuliffe’s education plan entails pushing school districts to re-draw school boundary zones to be “anti-racist” — in other words, 1970s-style busing that could dramatically change families’ everyday lives by moving their kids to a different school than the one they expected when they chose their home.
The campaign plan calls for “creating a school integration officer within the Virginia Department of Education, reviewing how diversity factors into school accreditation standards, incentivizing localities to implement integration strategies and working with developers to drastically improve access to affordable housing so that families can locate in areas with high-performing schools.”
While details of McAuliffe’s plan to eliminate “modern-day segregation in our schools” are sparse on his website, the fuller picture is found in the paper that forms its sole footnote and that tracks with its broad claims: A report from the Commonwealth Institute called “Addressing the Lasting impacts of Racist Choices on Virginia’s Education System.” The report uses the word racist 24 times. It laments “racist” educational systems in Virginia despite McAuliffe having been governor from 2014 to 2018, and his lieutenant governor, Ralph Northam, having held the post since.
The Commonwealth Institute plan says:
Typically, a student would be assigned to a school close in proximity and that the neighborhood they live in is “zoned” for. However, having established the persisting legacy of housing and education segregation in the state, it becomes clear that this method results in segregated and often under-resourced schools. …
One way to approach this issue is through intra-district zoning policies that maintain socioeconomic and racial equity as its guiding principle alongside specific diversity goals. School divisions would make the decision to redraw school zones, based on socioeconomic status and/or the racial and economic makeup of their schools and/or neighborhoods, to create better integrated schools. …
Another district-wide strategy is called managed choice. In an equity-focused choice system, all families would be required to submit a set of school preferences, and their student’s assigned school would be based on a variety of determined goals that can include diversity and proximity, among others.
Tying accreditation to racial composition of schools suggests, in its most drastic form, that a school could lose its accreditation unless it has a certain racial makeup, which would force districts to implement busing. In a less drastic form, where a low diversity score would not be enough to shut a school down, but a high diversity score would effectively give it bonus points, the effect would be lower standards in high-minority schools. A positive rating in the “diversity” category would offset negative marks in academic categories that might otherwise have caused the school to fail, masking educators’ failure to help minorities do well.
Flooding neighborhoods around good schools with new “affordable housing”
McAuliffe’s plan also calls for deliberately building low-income housing around top-rated schools. It says McAuliffe would work “with developers to drastically improve access to affordable housing so that families can locate in areas with high-performing schools.”