Another day, another high-ranking school official attacking parents – this time with racial overtones.
In a recent House Public Education hearing, the vice president of the Pflugerville ISD school board suggested that parents of “black and brown kids” are manipulated into sending their children to charter schools. She did not reference white or Asian parents, implying that only black and brown parents lack the sophistication or intelligence to see through the “marketing.” Nor can they thoughtfully determine whether a charter school offers a better educational experience for their children.
“People like the shiny new penny,” she told Rep. Harold Dutton. Charter schools are “preying upon those kids, and those families,” she explained, again referring only to black and brown families. “And if you don’t know anything about how people market to families that are of Spanish denomination, they are very trusting to the experts. And they lean into the experts like ‘well this seems like a better option for us and we’re going to go with it because they’re selling us the marketing.’”
Her statements came in response to questions from Rep. Dutton about why parents would choose a charter school over the local public school. “They’re being heavily marketed to…These charters are marketing to brown and black students. They are preying upon them and that is in their marketing material.”
“The fact that children are choosing to go to the charter schools…?” Dutton began.
“Because it seems very enticing,” she interrupted. “They are not serving their students the way we are. Our schools are by far superior,” she claimed.
“Well the students must not think that because they’re choosing the charter school,” Dutton shot back.
She then went back to insulting parents, “They’re not even evaluating their local ISDs because they’re being so heavily marketed to.” And then appeared to insult Rep. Dutton, “If you don’t understand the power of marketing then we are not having a good conversation.”
Having heard enough, Rep. Dutton started to make the point that it’s possible black and brown parents are choosing charter schools because their kids are the ones who have the lowest academic performance. Only 19% of black 8thgrade students in Pflugerville ISD can do math on grade level.
“Which subgroup is at the bottom educationally?” Dutton asked.
“All of our marginalized groups. All of our black and brown students,” the school board member responded.
“And who are the students at the charter school?”
“If you don’t think that it’s predatorial-“
“That’s not my question. Please answer my question. Who are the students at the charter school? What is their racial breakdown?”
“They are mainly black and brown students,” she finally admitted.
After forcing her to admit the truth, Dutton tried again to make the point that black and brown parents are likely choosing the charter school because their kids are the ones failing at the public school. Her response was to accuse him of excluding other “marginalized” groups. Visibly frustrated, Dutton ended the questioning.
This is the attitude of those who oppose parental choice. Parents, particularly the non-white ones, are too stupid to understand “marketing,” and can’t make a rational choice to pull their kids out of a school that isn’t serving them and put them into the place they feel best serves the child’s needs.
It’s fashionable to say, “sometimes they say the quiet part out loud,” but it’s happening so often in this debate that it is no longer accurate to call it the quiet part.
Every time they oppose parental choice, they unwittingly make the case for parental choice stronger.