Beyond Brown: Pursuing the Promise Image Strip of Linda Brown walking to school, girl taking test at desk, Nettie Hunt and daughter with newspaper headline on steps of Supreme Court, present day children raising hands, children at computers
Long Road to Brown
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Weighing Priorities: School Budgets, Integration and Equal Access

Boston school buses escorted by police 1970s Born before Boston's highly charged, widely publicized struggle over court-ordered busing for desegregation, the state-financed, voluntary busing METCO (Metropolitan Council For Educational Opportunity) program was created to send inner-city students to suburban schools for greater opportunity and a better education.

When METCO buses started rolling in Boston in 1974, 60 percent of the city's public schools were white. Today, 82 percent of Bostonís public school students are of color, with schools growing increasingly overcrowded and lacking resources.

Tamara rides the bus to school But for some, the dream of obtaining access to quality schools has remained alive.

Over the years, METCO has expanded to offer some 3,200 children from Boston an education in high-performing suburban schools.

Getting up before dawn to travel a great distance to the suburb of Lincoln is an admitted hardship to Tamara Brooks who began making the trip when she was just in kindergarten. Now a high school student, 16 year old Tamara appreciates the opportunity and describes herself as “one in a million.” The METCO program has a waiting list of 17,000 — 28 percent of the Boston school population.

Man holding "SUPPORT METCO" sign But after decades of being the national model for voluntary school integration, METCO is drawing attacks from Lincoln parents and community leaders who, in hard fiscal times, would rather spend funds on improving resources for neighborhood students. The argument divided the town and conjured memories of Brown as the community weighed the benefits of integration. Supporters fear that abandoning the METCO program in Lincoln could reverberate throughout Boston's other participating suburbs and turn back the clock on school diversity.

For more information about the METCO program:

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