Education and charges of de facto segregation have been causing quite the conversation in the Democratic Party since Kamala Harris and Joe Biden's on-stage fight over busing at the recent Democratic debate. They have argued that it is just horrible that minority students are trapped in failing schools. On Friday's edition of MSNBC Live host Yasmin Vossoughian brought up how Democratic candidates were speaking Friday to the National Education Association, the country's largest union and one of the organizations that is preventing those minority students from going to potentially better schools.
Instead of talking about how the teacher unions have resisted letting minority children have any choice in schools, Vossoughian began by hailing the teachers as the cornerstone of American life.
YASMIN VOSSOUGHIAN: As we well know, teachers, they educate our children, they are the cornerstone of this country really and they are underpaid, I think everybody can admit that and everybody understands that, right? Do we have any indication, any idea whether or not these candidates and what they plan to say to address things like teacher pay, to address things like the disparity exists between the school systems in this country between inner city schools and other schools as well, the conditions that are facing children every single day, the lack of supplies that so many of these teachers get, because really they are a major voting block in this country and an important vote for these candidates.
MSNBC analyst Heidi Przybyla agreed that NEA members constitute a large Democratic voting block and that their failure to endorse Obama in 2008 led to a loss of influence as charter schools and vouchers gained steam. "I think you’re going to see a delineation there were many of these candidates now are going to be really emphasizing the importance of moving away from some of the [Obama] policies which were then put on hyper-extreme mode with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. I think they're going to be looking for many of these candidates to draw a bright line between the policies of the current era and where this needs to go in the future."
She added "I was just at a 4th of July parade yesterday where in my own district, we had middle schoolers going around to sign petition about mold in their school buildings, so this is something that cuts across party lines." Why the federal government is best situated to deal with intimately local things such as teacher pay or mold in Przybyla's local middle school is a question that was not addressed.
Vossoughian then turned to NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe who declared that the racial issues would be important because, "there is a huge gap now and there are still segregation in schools at this point, even if it’s not the law. You still have this gap between children of color going to school and not getting the resources that other children get." She then went on to crictize Harris for saying there is a problem, but not offering any solutions.
The entire segment was remarkable. There were three individuals saying how horrible the schools are, especially ones attended by minority students in inner cities, but while hyping the teachers union that seeks to clamp down on any alternative, instead offering the same old talking points about funding levels when we know the correlation between the amount of money spent on education and the quality of education is controversial at best.
Here is a partial transcript for the July 5 show:
12:51 PM ET
YASMIN VOSSOUGHIAN: And Ayesha, we heard Mariana say these teachers, they want to hear candidates address the race issue and we also heard Joe Biden with this most recent interview doubling down on his position on busing this morning because of the standoff he had with Kamala Harris on that debate stage. Do you think educators at today’s forum are going to receive this?
AYESHA RASCOE: I think that they will receive the candidate that has a message that will address some of those disparities. I don't know how deeply the busing issues is going to come up, but, there is a huge gap now and there are still segregation in schools at this point, even if it’s not the law. You still have this gap between children of color going to school and not getting the resources that other children get. So, what is the real answer to that? So, you had kamala Harris who made an issue out of, really this issue of integration and this issue of how does the federal government, what role doe the federal government plays in education and you have seen Biden pushing back in that and defending his record, but I think they're both going to have to put forward a vision for the future and what it will mean and what role the federal government will play.
VOSSOUGHIAN: It’s important that you bring it up, a vision for the future, Ayesha, because I was talking to someone earlier this morning when I was on the air and they said okay Kamala Harris is saying segregation very much exists in our schools as we all well know, but why didn't she have a follow up of and this is how we are going to fix it.
RASCOE: And I think, that's something Harris needs to define herself because her answers have been a little bit all over the place when it comes to does she want mandated busing. Now, she said it’s something that she thinks should be considered, so she really needs to define for herself what does this issue mean today. She talked about what happened to her as a child and why it was important to her, so what does it mean going forward?