What is a good ‘ole racist white person to do when forced to attend school with black people? They go change the law in a subtle way that will promote segregation, of course. I mean, why can’t it be done? Donald Trump won the presidency after all.
Louisville, Kentucky was once considered a model of school desegregation. They achieved this by using a forced busing plan. Busing is defined as:
‘Busing: the transporting of students by bus to schools outside their neighborhoods, especially as a means of achieving socioeconomic or racial diversity among students in a public school.’
Basically, the decision of what school you go to is not based on the nearest location of a school but on the various schools in your area and what demographic requirements they must meet. Basing schools on location would mean schools closest to black neighborhoods would primarily be made up of minority students. Schools near white neighborhoods would primarily be made up of white students. America has NEVER been good at that whole “separate but equal” thing. In fact, we were terrible at it. So, black schools would suffer, and urban-area schools still suffer (think Detroit). White schools wouldn’t (and don’t). Even with desegregation, schools would be segregated based on the makeup of residential areas.
Though seemingly inconvenient, busing worked. There were detractors; however, the Washington Post reported:
‘When the National Assessment of Educational Progress began in the early 1970s, there was a 53-point gap in reading scores between black and white 17-year-olds. That chasm narrowed to 20 points by 1988. During that time, every region of the country except the Northeast saw steady gains in school integration. In the South in 1968, 78 percent of black children attended schools with almost exclusively minority students; by 1988, only 24 percent did. In the West during that period, the figure declined from 51 percent to 29 percent.’
With forced busing, that’s how Jefferson County Public Schools became integrated. But with the rise of Trump, which has given racists confidence, the Kentucky legislature aims to end forced busing which would in effect re-segregate schools with their brand, new shiny bill House Bill 151. The Washington Post reported:
‘The threat is no longer from protesters in hoods throwing bricks at buses carrying black children into white parts of town, but from state legislators pushing a bill to require a return to neighborhood schools.’
A partial reading of the bill reveals:
‘The local board of education shall determine the attendance area of each school in the school district. A student shall enroll in the school designated for the attendance area in which he or she resides, except as provided in subsection (3) of this section.’
Subsection 3 reads:
‘Upon written request to the local board of education, a resident student shall be permitted to enroll in the public school nearest his or her home, unless capacity of the nearest school would be exceeded or the school nearest the student’s home has academic or skill prerequisites for attending that school.’
Take note, subsection 3 does not include an option for choice based on school performance.
The sponsor of the bill, Kentucky State Rep. Kevin D. Bratcher, believes it will “bring common sense to a system that is unfair to children who can’t get into schools around the corner or across the street from where they live.” Unsurprisingly, Bratcher is white. He does care about the concerns that exist over the big possibility of resegregation; however, he stated:
‘But we have to look at what we’re giving up for desegregation.’
Let’s repeat that, folks. “But we have to look at what we’re giving up for desegregation.” Bratcher was apparently wholly inconvenienced as a child because he had to attend a school 45 minutes away. That school, according to the Washington Post, was historically black. Bratcher feels that, “Sending a child to a school just right down the street is a powerful benefit.”
Know what’s another powerful benefit? A desegregation policy that ensures the fair and equal education of all students, regardless of race or ethnicity.
The Post noted that most of Louisville’s citizens support busing as a means of ensuring integration.
One African American state representative, Rep. Attica Scott (D) was actually bused from her neighborhood to a school in a white neighborhood. Being African American, she was able to attend a quality school. She said:
‘For me, it was this opportunity to be with kids who weren’t like me – to be able to develop those relationships and connections and to get to know each other in ways that would not have been possible without busing.’
Another supporter of busing, Hannah Drake also spoke out against the bill. Her daughter was bused to a school across town and had to wake up at 5:30 a.m.
‘It was taxing. But when you look at it, what is the alternative? To send them to a school in your neighborhood which is predominantly African American and has economic challenges? They’re not going to get the same kind of education.’
She’s right. By requiring students to attend the school nearest to their residence, it would go back to urban schools being mostly black and suburban schools being mostly white. Remember, our governments from local to federal have never been good at the separate but equal thing. Minority education would suffer as funding to their schools would diminish. This is simply the attempt of a white guy to promote re-segregation because his white privilege was negated. He even says convenience is worth more than desegregation. What’s more obvious than that?