Subsidizing Bigotry

As the country’s diversity and tribalism have grown, America’s public schools have become more necessary than ever. The public school is one of the last “street corners” where children of different backgrounds and beliefs come together to learn–ideally–not just “reading, writing and arithmetic” but the history and philosophy of the country they share.

Today’s Americans read different books and magazines, visit different websites, listen to different music, watch different television programs, and occupy different social media bubbles. In most communities, we’ve lost a shared daily newspaper. The experiences we do share continue to diminish.

Given this fragmentation, the assaults on public education are assaults on a shared America.

Nevertheless, politicians and (especially) religious adherents who feel threatened by diversity and modernity have worked tirelessly to support voucher programs that allow parents to remove their children from public school systems and send them to private–almost always religious–schools, where they study with “their own kind.” The rhetoric around these programs typically defends them as “allowing children to escape failing schools”–although those “failing” schools are hardly helped by sending their already inadequate resources to private schools–despite consistent research showing that vouchers virtually never lead to academic improvement. (They do, however, lead to increased racial segregation.)

As an added indignity, voucher programs send tax dollars to schools that discriminate against LGBTQ children and children with LGBTQ parents. Here in Indiana, Cathedral High School, which received over a million dollars in 2018, fired a gay teacher;  Roncalli High School, which also has accepted vouchers worth millions fired a much-loved gay counselor who was in a same-sex marriage.

Recently, in a welcome announcement, two major contributors to Florida’s voucher program announced that they would no longer be contributing to that state’s program, which also allowed recipient schools to deny admission to gay students.

Two of the largest banks in the U.S. say they will stop donating millions of dollars to Florida’s private school voucher program after a newspaper investigation found that some of the program’s beneficiaries discriminate against LGBTQ students.

In a statement to NBC News and CNBC on Wednesday evening, Wells Fargo confirmed that it would no longer participate.

“We have reviewed this matter carefully and have decided to no longer support Step Up for Students,” the San Francisco-based bank said of the voucher program. “All of us at Wells Fargo highly value diversity and inclusion, and we oppose discrimination of any kind.”

In a tweet to a Florida lawmaker Tuesday, Fifth Third Bank, based in Cincinnati, said it has told officials with the voucher program that it will also stop participating.

An investigation by the Orlando Sentinel found 156 private Christian schools with anti-gay views that participated in Florida’s program. Those schools educated more than 20,000 students whose tuition was paid by Florida taxpayers–including, obviously, LGBTQ taxpayers.

The investigation found that 83 of the 156 schools with anti-gay views refuse to enroll LGBTQ students, and that some number of those schools also exclude students whose parents are gay.

“Florida’s scholarship programs, often referred to as school vouchers, sent more than $129 million to these religious institutions,” the Sentinel reported on Jan. 23. “That means at least 14 percent of Florida’s nearly 147,000 scholarship students last year attended private schools where homosexuality was condemned or, at a minimum, unwelcome.”

So much for the American “street corner” and our commitment to civic equality.

We taxpayers are subsidizing segregation and bigotry–without realizing the promised improvement in academic outcomes.


  1. It’s simply national suicide. I’m trying to remember, wasn’t there another country that did the same thing back in the 30s and 40s? So this time the fingered group is the LGBTQ students instead of the Jewish students. Big deal. The $64,000 question is: Who is going to be next? Will it be the Blacks or Jews, or both? Personally, I’m betting on the Jews.

  2. So let us all follow the Nazi-Republicans, or is it the Republican-Nazis. They’ve got a great plan that makes a lot of sense: What will work on less than 1% of the population will work on 40% of the population. God help us all!

  3. “We taxpayers are subsidizing segregation and bigotry–without realizing the promised improvement in academic outcomes.”

    And we are subsidizing the system via taxation without representation here in Indiana; we voted in 2018 for a small tax increase to be used only to increase teacher’s salaries. It was ignored and bills before our Republican Legislature either tabled or voted down and the governor steadfastly denying salary increases as the state increases the voucher numbers, further depleting the public education tax budget. The busing of students continues; partly due to the closure of neighborhood schools and the vouchers require parents provide transportation to private mostly religious schools. The busing issue added to the red-lining and white flight to maintain segregation in neighborhoods which were integrated by blacks not allowed…basically not allowed anywhere. While working in the neighborhood drugstore which served food at the soda fountain in the mid-1950’s; one hot summer day a black man walked in and asked politely for a glass of water. I had never seen a black person come through the door before; gladly provided the water he requested. The pharmacist/owner waited until he left to walk over to tell me to throw the glass in the trash. A cowardly bigot!

    The busing of school students provided integration but it also forced minorities into a more personal situation to sit among bigots and deal with their direct insults and hatred. Trump has expanded bigotry to include “others” on his list and approved open bigotry which has brought out the armed bigots and mass shootings. We have moved further backwards in the past three years at a much faster pace than we made strides forward one step at a time due to the Civil Rights Movement and passage of laws and Amendments which have been repealed.

    “Today’s Americans read different books and magazines, visit different websites, listen to different music, watch different television programs, and occupy different social media bubbles. In most communities, we’ve lost a shared daily newspaper. The experiences we do share continue to diminish.

    Given this fragmentation, the assaults on public education are assaults on a shared America.”

    Today’s “Subsidizing Bigotry” has a name; it is Trump’s White Nationalism.

  4. My rural NE Indiana county doesn’t have a racial issue, but the changes made to the school funding formula have made it increasingly difficult to provide the education that students need in order to be prepared for college.

    For financial reasons two of the three public school systems in my county have needed to consolidate for the past few years in order to reduce overhead and be able to provide a more robust education to students. Unfortunately, school board members in the rural system refuse to consolidate with the city that has been offering classes that students need. The result is that many of the students living in the rural district have chosen to transfer to the two city schools so that they can have the classes they need in order to be prepared for college.

    This student exodus has created even more financial stress on the rural system. But, hey, let’s not be silly and be concerned about the best interest of the students.

  5. Jo Ann: At least the public school buses don’t take kids to the private, bigoted schools. That would truly be adding insult to injury.

  6. Just by way of warning to those parents so eager to get their children into a religious school, my parents paid to send their four children to Catholic schools. As adults, none of the four have been members of the Catholic Church. The same is true for many of the people I went to school with.

  7. OF COURSE private charter schools discriminate. That’s how they sold their goods to the unwitting, bigoted and/or uncaring parents. Why on Earth would those people want to send their precious, blue-eyed child to school with THOSE OTHER people? As Marv so cleverly pointed out, the Nazi-Republicans foster discrimination. Why else would a wretch like Betsy DeVos be heading our national Department of Education? Or, to extend the thought, why would a billionaire money changer like Robert Mercer openly admit to being a Nazi?

    When George W. Bush rammed his “No Child Left Behind” nonsense (Who says Republicans don’t believe in abortion?) through the Texas state legislature, the Houston School District superintendent, Roy Paige, proceeded to fiddle the system. He held back the troubled ninth graders until they were old enough to be seniors, then skipped them over the tenth and eleventh grades where the high-stakes testing occurred. So, naturally, the test score summaries skyrocketed. TESTING WORKED. Well, Mr. Paige was rewarded by PRESIDENT George W. Bush with the post of Secretary of Education. How’s that for crony government?

    Obama’s first Sec.Ed. wasn’t much better except he didn’t cheat. He just threw some money at the system and didn’t change a damned thing – that is worth mentioning – that incorporated better facilities, better equipment and better teacher salaries/recruiting for the inner city schools from which he sprung.

    The Sec. Ed. chair has become a political favorites’ spot much like an ambassadorship for big donors. DeVos pumped over a million bucks into Trump’s campaign, and VOILA, she is the new Sec.Ed. with a really, really backward agenda.

  8. In Delaware County, Indiana, our city schools were taken over by the state and handed to Ball State University to operate (the authorizer of charter schools in Indiana). No lawsuit by the locally elected school board members against the state was filed on behalf of local property taxpayers. Nothing.

    Once the coup took place, the Ball Brothers Foundation, began doling out money to the GOP controlled university to benefit the local city school system.

    It was a complete sham.

    The parents, long before the state took over the school system, transferred their kids out of the city schools (40% minorities) to the surrounding rural county schools (less than 5% minorities). Furthermore, when the city school officials closed the high school on the south side of town to merge into Muncie Central High School, another exodus of white kids went into the county school systems.


    It would be straightforward to study the inflows and outflows of students and their race, but no study has been undertaken. The community is racist, but neither the university, Ball Brothers Foundation, nor the Gannett-owned newspaper, want to put statistics to the obvious.


  9. Verrnon @ 8:21: Charter schools are NOT the recipients of vouchers. Charters are public schools, albeit released from some of the constraints applicable to traditional public schools. Voucher prrograms send tax dollars to PRIVATE schools, over 90% of which are religious.

    It is really important to recognize the difference. While I am leery of charters that are managed by private companies, and while they are certainly no panacea for problems experienced by traditional public schools, charters simply do not raise the same issues that voucher programs do.

  10. Vernon,

    Tomorrow is going to be the “big day” when we finally have to admit: “We’re up SHIT’S CREEK without a paddle.” That’s not all bad, better sooner than later. Fortunately, we’ll still have time to find a paddle, if there is one.

  11. Marv, good points, I’ve got a little bit add.

    Thank you Sheila, the opportunity to get into some of this is appreciated tremendously, and it’s good therapy, LOL.

    We all know that the Catholic and Protestant churches claimed that the black race came from the cursed Canaan. And therefore, they were to be slaves because Old Testament/Pentateuch/Torah/Tevrat, said descendents of Canaan were to be slaves to descendents of Shem and Japheth! Unfortunately, I’m sure this was done purposefully, and it is still held in high regard to this day. The dark skinned race descended from Ham’s firstborn Kush. The descendents of Kush, and his other brother Put, eventually settled in the area which is called Ethiopia. It was also called the land of Kush. As a matter of fact, many Bible translations later on used Ethiopia for the land of Kush. The descendents of Japheth spread through the Caucasus and Central Asia. Shem was the progenitor of the Semitic people’s, Jews, Syrians, and others which evidently settled in the Arabian Peninsula and related areas. The curse on Canaan was fulfilled by the subjugation of Canaan’s descendents to Shem and his descendents. Shem died 10 years after the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah at the age of 600 years old. The lineage of Shem eventually produced the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

    So, the black race was not cursed, the lighter skinned race was. How ironic!

    Concerning these banks, that seem to have had a magnanimous epiphany towards donating to the voucher pool, it’s hilarious considering their history of bigotry in their lending practices. That part of the story seems quite dubious to say the least. The voucher program is predominantly funded by property tax levies on homeowners. And when these school boards write a check for $10,000 or $15,000, or?, That just sucks more money out of the school district! So you are not getting what you are paying your tax money for, a public education. They will continue to do this until the public educational process descends into bankruptcy. People who send their kids to private schools, should have to pay for sending those kids to the private school. May be, their tax levies could be eliminated on their property, at least the portion that is sent to the school district. That would be more fair if the voucher program were to continue, instead of having your neighbors underwrite your private education!

    Where I live, 65% of my property taxes go to the school district. And the school district is constantly whining for more money, they keep increasing their levies on property property owners, and the amount of school vouchers goes up every year. It’s not sustainable and will eventually cause a revolt, along with a bankrupt school district.

    My experiences in public school, because this area was mostly white, was very horrifying! Not only was I beaten up on a daily basis, I was locked in a janitors closet with my books for a whole school year. I was only in 3rd grade and really didn’t understand what was happening. And of course kids think that they’ve done something wrong. My parents didn’t find out about that for quite a while. One thing it did do, it made me hate! And, it made me seek retaliation and retribution later on in life. And it was something that I relished. Starting at around 14, I took every sort of martial arts I could find, I had the speed bags and the heavy bags, my hands are still gnarled. But, when I located some of those bullies, the exquisite taste of fury was intoxicating.

    The only thing that saved me from continuing down that rabbit hole, was meeting a wonderful young lady who became my wife. It took a while, but with the help of her and my mom, and the study of Scripture, and the realization of what was happening and what is happening, it helped me channel my energy of hatred into something constructive.

    But I have always been aware of not only my damaged psyche and along with PTSD, but of the merciless killings of many of my uncles at the hands of bigots. My great grand mother had 10 sons, 5 of them were murdered, the other 5 served in the 2nd world. Ironically, they all returned unscathed from that war. So they fought for a country that murdered their brothers. I use to ask them when I was younger, (they’ve all passed away now) why they did it? They said they were just defending home. Although, other folks didn’t see it that way and continued to cause problems for my family. One of my cousins who I was named after, was hung in a jail cell in Texas after shooting an intruder trying to steal his horses.

    But hey, everyone has a story, I put up with public education until I didn’t have to anymore. It wasn’t a good experience for me. But I learned a lot about people who looked at me much differently than I looked at myself. This entire system is rotten to the core, or, mostly rotten to the core. That’s why I write the way I write and read what I read, which is a lot of reading (thanks Marv for your support) I love history, and I always maintain an interest in the inhumanity portion of humanity, because it is always cyclical, and is educational towards a lesson that should be learned, although, it usually is not.

    I love this particular Scripture, it does bolster my faith on a regular basis!

    Hebrews 6:13-20 reads; “13 For when God made his promise to Abraham, since he could not swear by anyone greater, he swore by himself, 14 saying: “I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you.” 15 So after Abraham had shown patience, he obtained this promise. 16 For men swear by someone greater, and their oath is the end of every dispute, since it is a legal guarantee to them. 17 In this same way, when God decided to demonstrate more clearly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 in order that through two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to the refuge may have strong encouragement to take firm hold of the hope set before us. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, both sure and firm, and it enters in within the curtain, 20 where a forerunner has entered in our behalf, Jesus, who has become a high priest in the manner of Mel·chizʹe·dek forever.

    This is a good promise, and, comparatively antithetical to what mankind has offered his fellow man! Men break their oath’s and men break their promises, God has shown that he does not. One can be logical and one can be a good citizen and neighbor, doing right by all, by becoming enlightened in scriptural truths and having a clean conscience in conduct and worship. The evangelicals do not practice, even remotely, what they preach! Just like the Hebrews that demanded fleshly kings, they wanted to see something tangible, even though many of them or their ancestors saw miraculous displays, it wasn’t good enough. It’s the same with anointing the evil Messiah, LOL, the chosen one? SMH! They want to work on their own time frame, their own schedule, because somehow they know better, and history shows, they do not!

  12. Sheila,

    Sorry, my blanket just got a little too large. I served on a committee to found a charter school in Colorado Springs back in the 90s, and the original founders were busting their butts to find private AND government money to open and operate it. As a charter school, it failed badly (after I left for Texas, of course (LOL)], and ended up being taken over by the district which designated it as a school for “non-traditional” students.

  13. John,

    I still see Trump as “Santa Claus.” I apologize and have to admit I’m not a pacifist. I, firmly, believe Trump and Pence are in for a very rude awakening.

  14. we could have a school system again,if we had the economic strength we had before reagan. we mostly had a living wage,andwe had money we could save,in a bank.we had money when we walked into that local busness to support a local economy. those investments allowed the state,county and city to provide adequate services,and a pension plan to those who worked for such entities. we see our money going straight to wall,street,and be gobbled up by those out of reach,and out of touch. I was raised in inner city newark,n.j. i did both catholic school,and public school. the latter i prefer because of the street roots..i wound up in bakerfield calif,9 grade,culture shock. i was now in a 90% white school. mostly bussed in from local farms and ranches..i had far more issues with the white privlege than i ever had in the mid 60s in newark,in a racially divided city at the time.the gross indiffrence between whites was startling..they for the most part hated any a city as diverse as bakersfield.. today i think back how public school allowed me to see the indiffrence,and focused me to look arond the corner before making a decisiion on whats right and wrong..then it became natural to be open to all who walked the same street..public schools are a melting pot of our next gens,and oir former gens. all i see in private vouchers is a bunch of investors wanting a piece of the money pie,at any costs.they devise talking points,hire fuzzzy math icons,and buy political seats to justify the cause…while,we are stagnated in wages and powerless today,we are still a majority,and we still have one vote left in november. the DNC has obviously decided they want the shadow of the isle on the right to
    cover them now..tell,perez to step aside,and sit down,we are tired of debates,bating and slander from a party who sees the future gens must follow a path they have decided on..NO, we will not follow a path that takes the new gens amd debases them for greed and indiffrence…
    im a white boomer, i support Bernie,and his stand is the only stand we can take,to unrig and
    start where we left off,before ALEC and the mass republican takeover of our more vouchers,no more supporting private schools,no more tears…find a way,and help someone get to the voting booth,educate those who dont have a voice,and hold hand now and then and look into the eyes of the one across from you who isnt making ends meet,and why? we came here to voice why we should,and the many theoligies around it. time to act,time to fight, if trump looses in november,were in for a hell of a change,the corrupt congress and senate will,devise a way to say he stays,we are at,that cross road now, do not look away..Chris Hedges has a new piece,, read it, and take a full swing at the subject..its US…

  15. At some point the Capitalists reached the conclusion that there was Gold in the Education System. This even occurred with Public Schools, approved books are big business and numerous tests. The explosion of Voucher and Charter Schools was supposed to offer an alternative to failing Public Schools. We have School Board elections. Are the people elected to these Boards really competent to run a school district or just some hack???

    One of the “selling points” of charters and voucher schools was their freedom from state regulations. No one ever seems to tell us what these rules and regulations the state has that are that inhibiting education. It is like all those other “onerous regulations” that must be eliminated to further Capitalism.

    There is this notion that every child arrives in school as some raw minerals ready to be transformed into a finished product. Curriculum is age based or grade based, rather than ability based. Not every child arrives in school from some perfect TV Home.

  16. The voucher program has been a life line for a few inner city neighborhoods in Indianapolis. In the case of a near east side neighborhood, Irvington, a non-religious school, “Irvington Community Schools” has stabilized and help grow the neighborhood. In the case of the my neighborhood other non-religious schools, “Herron High” and the “Oaks Academy” has really helped boost the neighborhood.

    I totally agree that any school that can discriminate on any basis should be denied access to any state sponsored voucher program. I also think that supporting private schools with a public voucher program has a bad effect on already ailing public schools, but there are some good results in a private voucher program.

  17. No doubt we’re dealing with Republican-Nazis. However, they have a big problem. The U.S. is not like Germany in the 30s and 40s. We’re much more like South Africa in the 80s.

    That’s a big difference, especially, when you’re attempting a TRANSITION toward FASCISM and you’re unable to, first, TRANSFORM and take control of the underlying political structure and its systems (without a civil war). Good luck!

  18. Off subject – Huge Black Eye for the Democratic Party in Iowa, for some reason basic math seems to have failed. The Trumpet is already hooting and hollering about – How can you trust the Democratic Party to run the country when they cannot run a caucus???

    From the Guardian: Iowa Democrats, you had one task yesterday, and you failed. Trump thanks you!

    No one hacked the caucuses, and no evil-doers appear to have messed with the app; the delayed results in Iowa were thanks to good old-fashioned incompetence, and magnified by a lack of transparency.

    In a particularly disturbing but entirely predictable twist, conspiracy theories and fear-mongering began to spread almost immediately on social media. This does not bode well for the general election in 2020.

  19. Jack,

    Thanks. The following is from the end of Chris Hedges’ article you recommended:

    “A cult is really about the death instinct. Cult leaders cannot create anything positive. All they can do is destroy. They then sell that destruction as a form of creativity. That is exactly what Donald Trump does. But ultimately the cult and the cult leader end up destroying themselves.”


  20. Private schools, religious or otherwise, are a way to segregate. It can be by class (wealthy and entitled), religion or race. It is always about the “other” being somehow dangerous and avoided. I attended both religious and public schools. I got a much better STEM and social studies education in public schools than in religious schools who spent a lot of the curriculum teaching “church” history, selective world and American history, approved (censored) literature and religious doctrine. I was always an outsider, partly because I had attended public school, had non-Catholic friends, came from another city/state. I have 5 siblings, only one of whom is still a practicing Catholic despite all having been almost exclusively educated in Catholic schools. Peggy’s experience is also mine.

    For-profit charters are a scam, as has been proven over and over, with millions of dollars lost and countless students getting short shrift and a failed educational experience. Public schools continue to be vilified and demeaned as failing when in truth it is now and always has been about segregation by racial, class or religious. Taxpayers paying for it, forced to subsidize religious teaching, is counter to everything promised in our state and federal Constitutions, forced to finance the for-profit charters’ grifters and con artists robbing students and the communities of equal opportunity to a public education is an outrage and of criminal intent. Choosing to leave publicly funded education for private is often a conscious or unconscious way of separating from those considered somehow beneath the one choosing, for whatever reason. Pay for it yourself but don’t expect me to pay for your personal bias.

  21. Authoritarians dream of power at the expense of the freedom of others. They blindly jump on any band wagon headed in that direction. The most prominent bandwagon for them these days is the Trumpublican one aka the Republican Party.

    We know from history that Republicans favor wealth concentrated at the top but the whole truth is they want that same distribution of knowledge and with the bulk of the wealth and knowledge in their hands power will also be, not for the band wagon but those driving it. The bandwagon is just necessary dead weight for the leaders, the wealthy, the knowledgeable to drive.

    It’s a very old but tried and true path to power.

  22. Pete, and what does history tell us? Disaster is afoot! They might be jumping on the bandwagon, but the horse’s bridle’s have snapped and it’s steering is nonexistent heading towards the precipice. So all those jumping on the bandwagon will be permanently attached wherever it goes. It’s kind of like a suicide in slow motion, and, if they want to kill themselves, don’t take me along for that ride! Because, when it gets to that point, the die has been cast for them, and if I had a lifeline, they wouldn’t get the end of it. You can’t have your cake and eat it too! You can’t be a tool and welcomed with open arms.

    Marv, I’m not a pacifist either, I was born into sin, part of the original sin! And I won’t use that as an excuse, although, at a certain point, all of the hatred and all of the anger boils to the surface. Especially if it involves bigotry and racism, or picking on the disabled and weak. When I quit talking, it’s probably going to get bad. Fortunately I recognized my shortcomings, or I should say recognize my shortcomings LOL, and I’m able to stop the onslaught rather quickly.

    Christ never said you could not defend yourself, as a matter fact, before Christ during the rule of Mosaic law, there were cities of refuge, so if you engaged with someone, but you were not the instigator, and there was a death involved, if you made it to the city of refuge, you could not be touched. Of course, it had to of been an unforeseen circumstance that caused the death.

  23. Thanks for the clarifier differentiating public charter from private voucher schools. Both charters and voucher schools discriminate, but only the voucher schools can discriminate based on religious principles such as opposition to homosexuality, gay marriage, etc.

    Both charter and voucher schools discriminate in other ways such as against expensive-to-educate special ed. children, non-English speaking students, low-scoring students (the students vouchers and charters were supposed to “rescue”), children whose parents can’t or won’t volunteer enough, and children and/or their parents who are too “difficult”. School choice means the SCHOOL makes the ultimate choice who it will and won’t educate.

    Schools receiving money from ALL taxpayers should NOT be able to use those funds to preference only the students it WANTS to educate.

Comments are closed.