Perhaps you knew that St. Louis gazillionaire Rex Sinquefield is behind the move in Missouri to eliminate the state’s income tax in favor of a higher and highly regressive sales tax, and perhaps you knew he supports the elimination of teacher tenure in Missouri, but I bet you didn’t know he was an expert on the origins of public schools in America.
From Rudi Keller of The Columbia Daily Tribune today:
Millionaire conservative activist Rex Sinquefield seemed to embrace an unusual theory of why the U.S. has public schools Thursday in St. Charles — he said the Ku Klux Klan is responsible and that it was part of the racist hate group’s program for keeping blacks suppressed.
During a lecture at Lindenwood College, Sinquefield explained his opposition to teacher tenure this way:
“You know what. There was a column written and I hope I don’t offend anyone,” Sinquefield said. “There was published column by a man named Ralph Voss, who was a former judge in Missouri. He now owns and writes for a newspaper in Central Missouri called the Unterrified Democrat — what a name — and it’s in Osage County, Missouri.
“And he starts off, something like this, he said a long time ago, decades ago, the Ku Klux Klan got together and said how can we really hurt the African-American children permanently? How can we ruin their lives? And what they designed was the public school system.”
Nothing unusual about that opinion, I would say. I mean, the KKK is such a far-sighted organization, I can see how it could plan such a brilliantly effective strategy so long ago—so brilliant, in fact, that the strategy was planned before there was a KKK! Man, that takes real savvy to pull off!
As Keller pointed out:
For the record, the idea that government, state and national, should fund public schools is older than the Klan, and, in fact, older than the U.S. Constitution. The first national government to set education policy for the states was the Continental Congress, operating under the Articles of Confederation. In one of the few lasting acts of our first national government, the Congress in 1787 set aside 640 acres in each township as it was surveyed, with proceeds from the sale of the land being used to establish public schools.
And the first public school in America, according to Wikipedia was founded in 1635. But when a Republican gazillionaire speaks, we should all listen. He must be really, really smart to have earned all that dough. Isn’t that the heart of Mitt Romney’s campaign?
As for Sinquefield, he has now apologized, according to stltoday.com:
Retired investor Rex Sinquefield is apologizing for remarks he made Thursday at Lindenwood University when he quoted a former judge who claimed public schools were designed by the Ku Klux Klan to hurt African-American children.
He now says the comments were “ill-timed and inappropriate.”
Apparently, there is a time when such comments will not be ill-timed.
Can’t wait for that.