Education Professor: ‘Forced busing’ didn’t fail. Desegregation is the best way to improve our schools.

Comments at Washington Post:

* Can we start with your kids, professor?

* Shorter Version:

Society wasn’t failed by liberal policies, liberal policies were failed by an unworthy society!

* No sane mayor or city council, no matter how liberal, will ever again endorse busing. Middle and upper class residents of all colors will be gone in a heartbeat, taking zillions in taxes with them. A person’s home is usually his/her biggest investment by far, and aside from the four walls, the school district in which they are buying is usually the second most important consideration. Change that from a sure thing to a lottery and no one who can afford not to will choose to live within the city limits.
In fact there’s probably an argument to be made that the end of busing coincided (caused…?) the resurgence of American cities like NY and Chicago.

* “‘Forced busing’ didn’t fail. Desegregation is the best way to improve our schools.”

Whoa, that’s a pretty racist remark. To claim that the mere presence of white kids in a school makes the other kids perform better seems like a crazy racist remark. And I take offense to it.

These microagressions are forcing me to consider buying a safe space somewhere in Fiji.

* The studies you cite are not at all compelling as to your premise. There is no sense of either causation or isolation of variables to ensure that the critical points of the premise are driving the conclusions.

So many things left out, changes in curricula, drop outs, changes in communities, crime, economy, the list goes on.

* The beauty of America is that we can make our own chouces. If you want to put your child in a diverse setting do so. No one is stopping you.

* When I was in high school, some black kids were bused 25 blocks to a majority white school, even though there was a high school literally one block away from where I lived. However, few white kids were bused in that black school. White parents mostly will never be ok with busing their kids to black schools, mainly because they feel that black schools are inferior, not to mention the racial overtones. But like everything else in America, quality is cost-driven. I have been saying for years that if you look at the cost of operating one school bus (and a large school district has many buses), ie, purchasing the bus, hiring and training for the driver, maintenance, fuel, insurance, etc, our education dollars are being wasted. Why not invest those busing dollars into neighborhood schools in a way that insures that every school, be it in rich or poor neighborhoods, has the same quality books, equipment, programs, and staffing. Black parents should be just as opposed to busing as white parents, and demand quality from the schools in their communities. And psychologically, black kids shouldn’t feel that their neighborhood schools aren’t good enough. Scrapping those buses would create a windfall to make ALL schools better.

* Two observations/questions. Is the result of closing the achievement gap through desegregation actions worth the social disruption that we endured in the 70’s and 80’s? That, too, is a cost.
Second, one of my children went to a high school that was split about equally between black, hispanic and white students. The black students were generally the most disruptive, so if a white kid was put in a majority black class, he or she would either just skip the class for the semester since little learning actually occurred while the teacher tried (and failed) just to get control of the classroom, or try to get into a different class. The hispanic kids were mostly just passive observers–not disruptive but certainly not active class participants. That was OK with the white kids in the class though since it still allowed the teacher to teach.
The AP classes were almost all white because the minority students did not want to be in them.
The author’s contention notwithstanding, I’ve had 3 children go through public elementary, middle and high schools, and there is zero evidence that the minority students did better academically as a result of these mixed populations. Sorry, real world versus academic theory.

* Many years ago our school district was trying to figure out why there as such a big academic gap between white kids and black kids. They hired a consultant who “discovered” that if the child’s parent/s take an active interest in their kids education that child will likely reach their academic potential.
Bricks and mortar didn’t count. Parents counted.
You can bus kids hither and yon, but if the parents don’t care about their child’s education, nothing will change.
Want to help a struggling child? Help their parents become better parents.

* When low-income families are pushed into middle-class, upper middle class communities it becomes an unmitigated disaster. Prime example is the social engineering experiment conducted by Judge Sand on the City of Yonkers. Yonkers once had good schools. Now you wouldn’t even want to send your dog to a Yonker’s school. Perhaps this experiment would have never happened if the children of Pound Ridge where hypocrite Judge Sand lived had to also be bused to a community of color as part of the settlement of the NAACP lawsuit.

* In 1970 black illegitimacy was 38%. Today it is 72%. Black kids are in bad schools because it is incredibly difficult to stay in or move into the middle class as a single parent. Kids raised in such environments are also far more likely to create chaos in the classroom. That and the disappearance of high wage jobs from the inner cities explain the resurgence of “segregated” school districts, not some phantom resurgence of racism.
Busing will not fix either problem. Neither macro trend is my fault, and I am not going to sacrifice my kids’ education in an uphill (actually, futile) effort to reverse either one.

* Busing is a way to make kids do what adults will not do = live in mixed neighborhoods. Since the kids do not vote they get stuck with riding hours to and from school. And the “progressive liberals” in the northeast seem to be the worst.

* Forced busing disrupted my childhood, but also gave me some insight into the fundamental flaw with this opinion piece. The first problem is that the professor starts at proposition A (racially and socioeconomically integrated schools produce better academic results for black students), moves to proposition B (forced segregation produces integration) and ends up at conclusion C (therefore, we can help black students achieve by forcing integration). However, it utterly fails to appreciate a couple of truths about human nature. A) In a free society, 100% of engaged parents will take measures to ensure the best outcome for their own progeny, whether that is to move to the best school district they can afford or to pay private school tuition; and B) people react to changes in educational prospects like stocks move on the market – in the anticipation of what will happen next. They move in a herd because the rest of the herd is too. In Prince George’s County in the early 1970’s, white people anticipated that forced integration would result in unsafe schools, lower peer academic achievement, and general disruption of the school system, white people anticipated that their neighbors would also anticipate this consequence, white people therefore anticipated that all the white people would move rather than have their children go to unsafe academically underachieving schools, therefore, almost all the white people moved. Leaving, what is today, a school system with less than 15% white enrollment that is unsafe relative to neighboring jurisdictions and is academically one of the two worst jurisdictions in Maryland (the other being Baltimore City). The professor’s answer to this market behavior is to way a finger and call everyone that moved racists. Yet for most of them, including one neighbor who had adopted a mixed race child, it was about making sure that child got the best school environment possible ( and thus enrolled him at a private school the same year we moved).

* I taught for 14 years, not that that is a prerequisite for recognizing the foolishness in this article. “Schools” that are failing are almost exclusively in urban settings, AKA black neighborhoods. Show me a school’s free and reduced lunch percentages and I can with a large degree of certainty tell you whether I would want my kids to go there. Throw in huge percentages of kids who don’t speak English in some of those inner city schools, and yes, you have a recipe for low achievement. Single parent households, a lack of value placed on education, truancy, gang membership, teen pregnancy, etc. – busing does not cure these problems – they mask them. And the people who have said that the rich/white kids get dragged down when this happens are correct in my opinion – having experienced the busing in the late 70’s, early 80’s around Madison, WI. You’re punishing kids and parents who have worked hard to afford a school in a “good” district by introducing kids who are going to have a negative impact largely. Again, great policy for the kids who caused their former school to fail. But a really infuriating policy for the parents and kids who have made a school succeed.

* Another academic without a clue of what actually happens in the real world. Forced busing did not improve school. Crappy schools were still crappy and the good schools were dragged down by the influx of disruptive and unprepared bused-in students. No body should pay any attention to this sort of nonsense. Just like nobody should pay any attention to so call “social scientists”. They all have an agenda.

* Forced busing destroyed the lives of millions of children. It destroyed thousands of schools and neighborhoods. It did not improve education but destroyed it.

* How does desegregation improve math competence? Does “at least five music teachers, band, orchestra, choir, musical theater and dozens of other clubs and activities” help the children learn math? Of course, the presence of such facilities indicates a far greater allocation of resources to one school rather than to a different school without these programs. However, you do not need much equipment or resources to teach or learn math and what the mixing of skin colors has to do with math is not clear to me.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
This entry was posted in Blacks, Education. Bookmark the permalink.