In 1959, five years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling outlawing segregation in schools, Prince Edward County, Virginia, officials chose to close all of the county’s public schools rather than desegregate them. When they were forced by court mandate to make all schools available to black and white students, county officials turned to “tuition grants”—a private school voucher system—to further avoid integration. The racist origins of private school vouchers should serve as a lesson for today: No matter how well-intentioned, voucher programs continue to leave behind our most vulnerable students and the public schools they attend.
At this event, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), representing Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District, will give opening remarks. Then panelists will discuss the Center for American Progress’ new issue brief “The Racist Origins of Private School Vouchers,” which looks at the segregationist policies and actions that led to the implementation of one of the first voucher systems in the country. Our distinguished panelists will also address and discuss current voucher programs that have led to inequities along racial and socioeconomic lines, as well as various voucher schemes proposed by President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
Carmel Martin, executive vice president for policy, Center for American Progress Action Fund
Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Education and the Workforce
Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, American Association of School Administrators
Richard D. Kahlenberg, senior fellow, The Century Foundation
Catherine E. Lhamon, chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
Justin Reid, director, African American Programs, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
Stephenie Johnson, associate campaign director, K-12 Education Policy, Center for American Progress Action Fund