Roper: The answer to CRT controversy in schools is school choice

By Rob Roper

A number of Vermont media outlets recently covered two dueling meetings in Essex over Critical Race Theory and what it means for public education. One meeting in the Grange Hall — “an audience of more than 100,” according to Seven Days — opposed how race was being discussed in schools. Across the street “the 40 or so participants” in a counter-rally expressed the opposite view.

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

Similar themes emerged in Rutland, coming to a head in a hotly contested House of Representatives election last November, wherein challenger Art Peterson, a Republican candidate, was a lead figure in gathering over 500 signatures on a petition asking the local school boards to refrain from flying Black Lives Matter and Gay Pride flags over the public schools. A counter petition in support of the flags was circulated garnering over 400 signatures. Peterson went on to oust 16-year incumbent Dave Potter, a Democrat, from the house seat by 45 votes.

Communities throughout the state are clearly divided over the issue. The solution, of course, is school choice. As long as kids are forced into one-size-fits-all classrooms and curricula, there will be angry battles tearing communities apart over what that one size is going to be and who it’s going to fit. Whatever the ultimate outcomes, roughly half of the students and families will end up on the losing side of the battle and will not be pleased. This is not conducive to a nurturing, productive educational environment.

So, school choice. If parents want their kids to be taught a curriculum in an environment based on Critical Race Theory, give them the option to seek out (or remain in) a school the fits those needs. If parents don’t want that for their kids but would rather a school with a mission focused on reading, writing and arithmetic sans politics, let them place their kids in school that embraces that mission. In both cases, let the money follow the child. Both sides will be content, divisive community disputes pass into the rear view mirror, and all schools can get back down to the business of educating children.

School choice will benefit everybody. If you really believe in a social justice — the real thing, not just a bumper sticker slogan — school choice for everyone should be an easy cause to embrace.  According to a 2019 Harvard University study:

African American Democrats support targeted school vouchers, universal vouchers, and charter schools at 70%, 60%, and 55%, respectively. Among Hispanic Democrats, support for the three policies is at 67%, 60%, and 47%. On the other hand, just 40% of non-Hispanic White Democrats support targeted vouchers, 46% support universal vouchers, and 33% support charter schools.

So, the question is, are white liberals actually listening to and supporting the communities they supposedly champion, or are white liberals virtue signaling with their words but throwing minorities under the proverbial school bus with when exercising true policy power. I think we know the answer.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. He lives in Stowe.

Image courtesy of Public domain
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9 thoughts on “Roper: The answer to CRT controversy in schools is school choice

  1. Mr. Roper’s vision here is compelling. Families (perhaps teachers too) seek to be released from captivity to their local public schools. Let families educate their kids as they see fit using whatever schooling fits their needs…let teachers make their services available directly to families…let THE MONEY FOLLOW THE KID.

  2. Proselytizing CRT is but a virtue-signaling smoke screen.

    According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES):
    Total expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools in the United States in 2016–17 amounted to $739 billion. In 2018–19, degree-granting postsecondary institutions spent $632 billion. That’s $1.371 Trillion spent annually on the U.S. education system.

    According to U. S. Census Bureau data, state and local governments spent a combined $200 billion in 2018 (the most recent year with available data) on police protection and corrections. The 2018 U.S. Defense budget was $682 Billion, for a total of $882 Billion combined.

    In the final analysis, School Choice (a free market in education) is the antithesis of Marxist dogma. Make no mistake: it ALWAYS comes down to money and power. What we’re witnessing today is much more than mere social proselytizing. It is tyranny to the extreme.

    School Choice is our ONLY saving grace.

    Caveat emptor.

  3. School choice is the answer in Vermont and the inner cities, both of which are no coincidence. The school systems in the inner cities are corrupt and giving an inferior education to those living in the city. They have no choice. It would be a wonderful example to set for our neighbors who are oppressed by systemic racism in those cities.

    We don’t have systemic racism in Vermont, because we’re all white. But make no mistake we have systemic oppression originating in Montpelier, socialism is the root cause of keeping people from success in Vermont and the reason our children flee the state. It’s the reason even the illegal aliens choose other states to live, there are much better opportunities in our nation.

    • Re: “We don’t have systemic racism in Vermont, because we’re all white.”

      Please, and with all due respect, Neil, this is the kind of rhetoric that makes me cringe. Not only is it grossly over-simplified, it’s patently incorrect.

      Again, as Nietzsche said: ‘Be careful when fighting monsters that you don’t become a monster, for when you stare long into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you.’

      • We have systemic oppression was the point I’m trying to make. It is the same systemic oppression found in inner cities.

        97% of Vermonters can’t claim systemic racism. Yet a good 40% of them are systemically oppressed. They are caught in the poverty trap, the same poverty trap that those who proclaim there is Systemic Racism in the USA. I used to disagree, but now agree.

        Systemic Racism in the United States consists of the following;

        School Systems
        Main Stream Media
        Housing Projects
        Government lead poverty traps
        Breaking down of the family through financial incentives.
        Drug and alcohol abuse

        Our Vermont DCF, has the exact same profile as any inner city, pick your city. Same big city social program we are using here in our little country side.

        Maybe this clarifies things abit.

  4. You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete, said Buckminster Fuller. Amen to school choice. Thanks again Rob. Great thoughts.

  5. The same folks who push CRT as the heart of every subject taught in public schools have also fought to restrict or eliminate Vermont’s traditional school choice. It is hard to indoctrinate the entire population if some are allowed an escape hatch. Rob is correct that school choice is the answer, but he is asking the wrong question. The question our friends on the Left is asking is, “How do we ensure that the children of 70 million knuckle dragging Trump voters reject their parent’s politics and conform to the utopia we are trying to impose?”

  6. Great summary of the issue, Rob. An unspoken obstacle is the desire of white liberals to teach CRT to children of non-liberal parents. There is a proselytizing element here that might be hard to uproot.

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