Recently, a Texas school administrator made condescending remarks about Hispanic and other minority parents who send their children to charter schools.
The vice president of the Pflugerville ISD school board suggested that parents of “black and brown kids” are being manipulated into sending their children to charter schools.
The suggestion is clear: Hispanic and Black parents are incapable of making informed decisions about their children’s education. This kind of patronizing and dismissive attitude is not only insulting but also deeply troubling.
It also lets Pflugerville ISD—and other districts that are failing minority kids—off the hook.
It struck me that this same bureaucrat did not make similar comments about white parents. Her omission implies that she believes Black and Hispanic parents lack the sophistication or intelligence to see through “marketing.” This kind of thinking is not only outdated and offensive, but it is also a damning indictment of views that are widespread among opponents of empowering parents.
Education reform is needed to ensure that all parents, regardless of their race or ethnicity, have access to high-quality education options for their children. School choice has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. It enables parents to make the best decisions regarding their children’s education. School choice also provides innovative and effective approaches to teaching and learning.
Educators should be partners to parents. Some administrators, however, view education reform as a threat to their bureaucracies, and they are quick to resort to this kind of nasty bigotry to dismiss Hispanic, Black, and Asian parents who want to pursue better solutions for their families. Unfortunately for them, these tactics won’t work.
That’s because minority parents in Texas aren’t being fooled—they’re being failed by a one-size-fits-all education system. That’s especially true in Pflugerville.
Let’s take TEA’s 2022 report card on Pflugerville ISD. Less than half, 42% of Black students can read at grade level or above. And the rate for Hispanic children is 45%. Black students scored even worse on mathematics, with less than a quarter, 24% performing at or above grade level. Hispanics did little better, at 30%. Black and Hispanic parents are right to be concerned. The majority of Pflugerville ISD students are unprepared for success.
It’s no wonder that Pflugerville parents are choosing charter schools and other options—and it’s not because they’re being marketed to. It’s because of the arrogance of the educational establishment, which is fighting to preserve an ossified system, and not focused on the future of our children.
Our diverse communities recognize that their kind of thinking is misguided and harmful to our children and families. They are also deeply unfair and untrue. Hispanics, like all parents, believe we need education reform to ensure that our children have access to high-quality education options and transparency in their children’s curricula. This requires breaking down the barriers that prevent parents from choosing the school that is best for their children.
In the Lone Star State, we have a long history of fighting for educational freedom and choice, and this kind of bigotry flies in the face of that tradition.
Condescending remarks about minorities further erodes the trust that families should have in our school systems. They also remind us of why we need to empower parents to make the best decisions about their children’s education, and we need to ensure that all schools are held to high standards of excellence. Only then can we truly provide our children with the education they deserve.
Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by former state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. Lucio, a Brownsville, Texas, native, served in the Texas Legislature for 35 years. He began his public service in 1971.
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