The Supreme Court’s decision on June 28, 2007, to prohibit race-based integration in local tax-funded schools by bringing in students from outside the neighborhood was a wise one. Local students, who would otherwise have to be bused out in order to make room for the newcomers, will no longer have to be bused out.
This is a good thing for children who will not have to spend time on buses. I speak from experience. I was bused in 1950 to mandate race-based segregation.
In the summer in between my third and fourth grade, my parents moved from Inglewood, California — now known as “the hood” — to Augusta, Georgia. My father was stationed at what was then called Camp Gordon.
When school started in the fall, I was put on a school bus and transported across town. I hated it.
I had attended a neighborhood school ever since kindergarten. I walked to school. It was a lower-middle-class school, although I did not know this at the time. It was just my school.
In Georgia, I attended what would today be called an inner-city school. Years later, my mother told me why. The neighborhood was going black. The remaining whites in the neighborhood were unwilling to move out, but they would have to if they had no school for their children.
To preserve segregation, the school district would have had to build a new school for the whites in the neighborhood. That was a lot of money to spend to educate a declining number of whites.
Camp Gordon was the district’s solution. The district decided to bus the army kids across town to fill up the whites-only school. We were pulled out of our neighborhood, however temporary it was for us, and forced to spend time in a bus.
I was so upset that I faked sickness to avoid the second day. As far as I can recall, I had never done this before. I sensed what most children sense when pulled out of their environment. “This is not good.”
As it turned out, the school was quite good academically. I had to push myself to keep up. When I returned to California in the spring term, I had completed most of the English textbook. The California students had only completed half of the same textbook. I coasted.
But I never forgot the experience. I did not like being pulled out of my neighborhood and forced to sit in a school bus.
I was part of a racial quota system. The goal was segregation. Had it been for integration, I would have hated it just as much.
The political solution for reconciling the never-ending debate over racially segregated public schools is simple: cease using taxes to fund education. But that is too radical a suggestion in 2007. So, the debate will go on.