Two years ago, when Jennifer Berkshire interviewed a senior staff member at the Walton Family Foundation, the staffer explained that vouchers were not right for Arkansas because a) there were not enough private schools in the state, but more importantly, b) school choice was so closely associated with segregation academies that it was a toxic topic in a state like Arkansas.

But now, with DeVos running the U.S. Department of Education, segregation academies are just swell!

The Walton family is pushing two voucher programs in the Legislature.

Fast forward two years and the Waltons are backing a controversial bill that combines two new school choice faves—1) *tax credit scholarships* that would let well-heeled Arkansans and corporations claim hefty state and federal tax deductions for donating to a nonprofit, which then disperses funds to choice-seeking parents in the form of 2) an education savings account, which lets parents pay for private school tuition using a *backpack full of cash.* So what’s changed? Not the number of private schools. Arkansas has just 230 of them, and that’s before you cross off the schools that charge well in excess of the $6K voucher amount. And not the legacy of racism that gave rise to many of these schools in the 1960’s and 70’s

Marvell Academy, the segregation academy in the Delta which opened in 1966, still has an entirely white student body in a town where the local high school is more than 90% Black. Nor is Marvell the only *white academy* that’s still going strong. There’s the Desoto School in nearby Helena, which prides itself on schooling students in *an understanding of our cultural heritage* and whose current enrollment stands at 257 white students and 1 Hispanic kid. The site of the largest number of segregation academies wasn’t the Delta but Pulaski County, home to LIttle Rock, where resistance to what white parents called *forced busing* led to a surge in the creation of new private school *options.* Like Central Arkansas Christian, formed in 1970 by *a core group of dedicated families and church leaders from all corners of Little Rock.* Today, just over 17% of the students who attend the Little Rock Public Schools are white. At Central Arkansas Christian High, that figure is close to 90%. Miss Selma’s, founded in 1965, continues to offer dynamic, quality education to parents who would prefer not to experience the fact that 40% of Little Rock’s residents are Black. Pulaski Academy, meanwhile, has made great strides towards integration since it opened as a private school for white students in 1971. Of its 1,078 students, 54 are Black.

The worst of the South is rising again. Segregation will soon become possible with the blessing of the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Justice Department (remember the Attorney General is Jefferson Beauregard Sessions of Alabama), and the U.S. Congress.

How fast can we reel backwards into the past, before the Brown decision? Watch the Arkansas legislature.