If the Obama administration and its supporters have their way, the suburban neighborhood school could be headed for extinction. In a veritable symphony of bureaucratic coordination, the administration has figured out how to recruit three cabinet departments, liberal non-profits, and deep-pocketed foundations to this effort. It can be tough even to follow the sophisticated strategy for accomplishing this (and the president prefers it that way), but if we value our liberty, it’s worth a bit of effort to understand this scheme.
The administration is maneuvering to replace local control in education (and in other areas) with school systems that extend across entire metropolitan regions. This effort is bolstered by advocacy groups promoting “economic integration” to force suburban jurisdictions to either admit low-income students from outside their districts or redistribute the tax money that supports their schools to less affluent nearby districts. Lurking behind this plan—as with practically every nationwide education policy—is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The pincer created by Obama’s coercion from coordinated federal agencies on the one hand and Gates’s advocacy of supposedly social-justice taxing and redistribution on the other could squeeze the life out of the suburbs and suburban schools.
We Don’t Like Your Neighborhood
First, let’s have a look at the Obama coercion scheme. This ambitious plan is bound up with a new rule from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) called the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule. Stanley Kurtz has provided the definitive analysis of AFFH (see here, here, here, and here), showing how the rule advances Obama’s longtime dream of essentially abolishing suburbs. Cities swallowing suburbs is known as “regionalism,” and how the Left plans to achieve it is explained in Kurtz’s book “Spreading the Wealth: How Obama Is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities.”
Jane Robbins is an attorney and a senior fellow with the American Principles Project. Emmett McGroarty is the American Principles Project’s Director of Education.