The battle over school choice in Louisiana took a racial turn recently, when a public teachers’ union accused a school reform group of endorsing the idea that “the KKK is good.”
The accused organization is the Black Alliance for Education Options, which supports voucher programs for black students from low-income families.
The Louisiana Federation of Teachers tweeted the following message: “In Louisiana a black educational interest group endorses teaching that the KKK is good.”
BAEO has made no such endorsement, and was baffled by the tweet, according to a spokesperson for the organization.
“That tweet is definitely inaccurate, and we do not endorse KKK vouchers,” said Tanzi West Barbour, national communications director for BAEO, in an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We don’t even know what a KKK voucher is.”
Barbour had “no idea” what prompted the accusation.
“You would have to ask them,” she said.
An LFT spokesperson clarified the meaning of the tweet.
“There are some 19 or 20 schools in Louisiana that are trying to get vouchers that had very questionable social studies and science curriculum,” said Les Landon, public relations director for the LFT, in an interview with The DC News Foundation. “I don’t have the exact language from the textbook in front of me, but as I recall, it tends to say that the KKK had some good intentions and was set up to re-establish morality.”
But the American Federation for Children, a reform group that supports the mission of BAEO, said the LFT has provided no evidence that such a curriculum exists.
“We have repeatedly asked them to show us a single shred of evidence to back up their completely ridiculous accusation,” said Malcom Glenn, director of communications for the federation, in an interview with The DC News Foundation. “They showed us nothing.”
Even if such a reprehensible curriculum did exist, Glenn said, this would not demonstrate that BAEO supported it.
School choice is about empowering parents to make the choice not to enroll their children in bad schools, and the LFT’s attempts to discredit BAEO with racial accusations is “absolutely appalling,” according to Glenn.
“To accuse an organization that literally works everyday to give children from low-income families access to the best education they can, families that are usually struggling just to get by, to accuse them of endorsing a teaching from one of the most heinous, despicable hate groups in existence is just absolutely appalling,” he said.
While the LFT stood by the content of the tweet, Landon admitted that Twitter was not the best way of getting the point across.
“Tweeting is the worst method of communication ever designed,” he said. “In 140 characters there is no way to have a sane, legitimate discussion of an important topic.”
The union opposes the school reforms that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law earlier this year, which include vouchers and merit-based pay for teachers. Opponents of school choice have filed lawsuits, initiated a recall against Jindal, and asked schools to reject voucher funds.
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