Black voters are ditching years of loyalty to the Democratic Party in order to push for the kinds of changes the community really needs, especially when it comes to school choice.
More often than not, Black children find themselves with little to no choice about what school they will attend.
Private schools are costly and many urban public schools don’t receive the funding they need to help students thrive in the classroom and eventually in the labor market.
Based on the most recent midterm elections, Black voters have had enough of this.
School choice has rocketed to the surface of Black voters’ concerns and caused many in the last election to vote for the Republican ticket despite years of Democratic affiliation.
Black voters have been adamant about pushing for a solution to the lack of school choice for many Black children and when one Democratic candidate in Florida considered axing one solution for good, the Republican candidate obtained a wave of support from Black voters.
Back in 2010, Florida Gov. Rick Scott had little more than 5 percent of the African American vote.
The governor didn’t seem too concerned about the low amount of support from Black voters and according to The New Pittsburgh Courier, he didn’t do much to change Black voters’ minds throughout his term.
As it turned out, he really didn’t have to.
Former Gov. Charlie Crist was campaigning to run against Gov. Scott when labor unions filed a lawsuit to dismantle a program that has helped roughly 70,000 low income Black and Hispanic students attend private schools instead of being forced to attend the public schools in their neighborhoods.
While former Gov. Crist publicly supported the unions who wanted to shut the program down, Gov. Scott showed his full support for keeping the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program alive.
Community leaders urged Crist to reconsider his stance on the program.
“The truth is that wealthy children have always had choices, whether to neighborhoods with favored public schools or private schools that only money can buy,” Rev. H.K Matthews, who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, wrote in an op-ed back in October. “The union cries foul when that privilege is extended to those of meager financial means.”
A coalition of Black ministers in the state supported Matthews in his call to get Crist to reconsider, but the former governor didn’t budge.
At that point, the 2014 election was swaying in Gov. Scott’s favor.
After only garnering 6 percent of the Black vote in 2012, Gov. Scott suddenly doubled that number and saw 12 percent of the Black vote in 2014.
That ultimately gave him the lead ahead of Crist.
School choice has been an important topic in the Black community, as Black children have been proven to face serious disadvantages in the classroom.
Graduation rates among Black students are disproportionately low and many public schools in predominantly Black districts are not seeing the type of funding that schools in predominantly white districts have.
In some states, cities are even claiming that widespread school closures are particularly targeting predominantly Black schools.
New Orleans is one of those cities.
Back in September, the U.S. Education Department opened an investigation into charges that the Recovery School District’s policy of closing and chartering New Orleans public schools violated the civil rights of Black students in the area.
The complaint was filed in May and insisted that the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and Recovery System were wrong for closing conventional public schools which had nearly a 100 percent Black student body when the schools showed clear signs of improving.
Other schools in the area with predominantly white student bodies were allowed to stay open although these schools shared similar struggles with academics and management.
Voting patterns suggest that Black voters will continue to sway their support in favor of candidates who push for school choice.