Is busing to integrate school still necessary?
July 14, 1998
in this forum:
Shouldn't qualified teachers at all schools end the busing debate? Does busing solve inequities or promote resentment? Can people in racially separated areas still work in a diverse environment? Should schools and students be placed in schools according to merit instead of racial background? Does busing allow kids of different races to learn to work together? Jake Woodbury of Ogden, UT asks: Why don't we rate schools on their merits, place each individual student based on their merits, and bus everyone?
Bill James, Mecklenburg county commissioner, responds:
We should. All children should be evaluated on their abilities and receive the education they need and deserve. Studies have shown that busing children long distances reduces parental involvement in their child's education. When the students being bused are black and/or poor and the parents are usually from single-parent households lacking in adequate transportation, their involvement is even more remote.
Charlotte's school board must determine if it is in the transportation business or the education business. As I stated in an earlier question, kids are bused in Charlotte because White liberals have a patrician and rather "plantation-owner" mentality about what is good for black children. When that is combined with Black fear of segregation, it is powerful force that keeps busing in place.
In the meantime, test scores are as bad as ever, more children are dropping out (literally or to private schools), drug use is on the increase but the School Board in Charlotte maintains that it has the "premier integrated school system in the nation." I just settle for a school system that is the best at educating children and has the test scores to prove it.
Dennis Rash, NationsBank senior vice president, responds:
I'm no educational expert, so I don't know how to rate fairly schools or students on their merits. My worry would be that we avoid a rating system that focuses on present capability without allowing for future growth and expanded opportunity.