Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Reign Of The Tea Party Begins...

While it's easy to downplay the effect made by the many freshman Tea Partiers just settling into office here in DC, reality is the actual "change" that these folks are bringing is already showing up in some not-so-subtle ways at the local level. A couple of under-reported stories from the world of education got buried in Giffords Gate last week, but I'd be wrong to overlook them here on

The first, curiously, takes place in my hometown, although I should note that I went to school in a neighboring district whose schools were pretty diverse even waaay back when I was a youngster.
The sprawling Wake County School District has long been a rarity. Some of its best, most diverse schools are in the poorest sections of this capital city. And its suburban schools, rather than being exclusive enclaves, include children whose parents cannot afford a house in the neighborhood.

But over the past year, a new majority-Republican school board backed by national tea party conservatives has set the district on a strikingly different course. Pledging to "say no to the social engineers!" it has abolished the policy behind one of the nation's most celebrated integration efforts.

And as the board moves toward a system in which students attend neighborhood schools, some members are embracing the provocative idea that concentrating poor children, who are usually minorities, in a few schools could have merits - logic that critics are blasting as a 21st-century case for segregation.

The new school board has won applause from parents who blame the old policy - which sought to avoid high-poverty, racially isolated schools - for an array of problems in the district and who say that promoting diversity is no longer a proper or necessary goal for public schools.

"This is Raleigh in 2010, not Selma, Alabama, in the 1960s - my life is integrated," said John Tedesco, a new board member. "We need new paradigms."

But critics accuse the new board of pursuing an ideological agenda aimed at nothing less than sounding the official death knell of government-sponsored integration in one of the last places to promote it. Without a diversity policy in place, they say, the county will inevitably slip into the pattern that defines most districts across the country, where schools in well-off neighborhoods are decent and those in poor, usually minority neighborhoods struggle.

The NAACP has filed a civil rights complaint arguing that 700 initial student transfers the new board approved have already increased racial segregation, violating laws that prohibit the use of federal funding for discriminatory purposes. In recent weeks, federal education officials visited the county, the first step toward a possible investigation.
Say what you want, but I can't help but read this as an extreme example of NIMBY-ism. Namely, these folks don't want their kids bussed over to Chavis Heights, and they don't want kids from the hood coming out Crabtree Valley. It's a darn shame that re-segregation is seen as progress by some folks into 2011, and I hope the NAACP and the Feds stop this nonsense before it goes too far. Then again, once these folks realize how sh*tty their basketball and football teams are gonna be as a result, maybe they'll reconsider.

I'm just sayin'.

Elsewhere, in a staggering example of When Keepin' It Revisionist Goes Wrong, Tea Baggers in the volunteer state want to literally whitewash the history books.
Members of Tennessee tea parties presented state legislators with five priorities for action Wednesday, including “rejecting” the federal health reform act, establishing an elected “chief litigator” for the state and “educating students the truth about America.”

Regarding education, the material they distributed said, “Neglect and outright ill will have distorted the teaching of the history and character of the United States. We seek to compel the teaching of students in Tennessee the truth regarding the history of our nation and the nature of its government.”

That would include, the documents say, that “the Constitution created a Republic, not a Democracy.”

The material calls for lawmakers to amend state laws governing school curriculums, and for textbook selection criteria to say that “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.

“The thing we need to focus on about the founders is that, given the social structure of their time, they were revolutionaries who brought liberty into a world where it hadn’t existed, to everybody — not all equally instantly — and it was their progress that we need to look at,” said Rounds.
So, in short, these folks want to paint the Founding Fathers as idealistic visionaries who had nothing whatsoever to do with the raping and pillaging of people of color.

Hmmmm, no wonder these folks want to "abolish" the department of education.

Sing sing, celebrate. I'm sure Dr. King would be so proud.

Question: Is it possible I'm misreading these stories? Could re-segregation and (further) whitewashing history books actually be good for America? What will the Tea Party do next? What would America look like with a Tea Party President, House, and Senate?

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