58,000 students “crisscross” Jefferson County, Kentucky (Louisville and environs) on school buses everyday. The intent is to achieve improved educational results for black children, who are not doing as well as white children, and improved social comity among blacks and whites by mixing the races when they are young. The theory, to a large extent, is that the first step in helping blacks achieve educational equality with whites in Jefferson County is by sitting them next to one another in class. A secondary effect for both races is that after completing their education, and as each group enters into adult society, there will be more long-term racial comity for two reasons, viz., white and black children, having gone to school together will get along better as adults, and black children by virtue of their proximity to white kids will get a better education. Educational parity is thought to be socially valuable. None of these goals are unreasonable—they just cannot be achieved effectively by the means being employed.
solutions offered and the goals sought in Kentucky could as easily be
resolved at much less cost, with much less disruption and far more effect
by, instead of spending millions of dollars and tens of thousands of hours
sending kids across the county and back (the average child’s bus ride is
forty-five minutes), simply giving them and their parents the choice of what
school they wish to attend.
things happen when school choice is offered:
become intimately involved in making the choice for, or even with, their
kids, and they look at the school options, public and private, much more
carefully. They will make
detailed and personal assessments of how any given school is educating
children. If the school district
makes the choice, parents are not partners, they are subjects.
parents meaningfully assess school performance, both before and after they
choose which school their children will attend, and are free to choose any
given school, public, private, charter, magnet, religious, (each year),
those schools that under-perform see enrollment go down.
At the same time, the teachers and administrators within those
schools where enrollment goes down begin to assess their own ranks, and
those who do not measure up begin to have pressure applied to improve, or
of children is reduced, or even eliminated to a large extent, because the
level of performance at all schools is increased, thus parents are allowed
to begin to send their children to school closer to home.
parents understand they have an opportunity to make a substantial difference
in their child’s education, they actually begin to make
that difference. They watch
homework assignments for completion, they monitor school attendance, and
classroom behavior. Black
parents are no different from parents of any other color—they understand
opportunity when it is presented, and they know it will make a real
difference in their kid’s lives if they take every advantage of it.
the Louisville school system as a whole, black kids make up about 1/3 of the
students. The politically correct ratio of blacks to whites, according to
the Louisville cognoscenti, is supposed to be, at each school, no less than
15% black, no more than 50%. However,
this appears to be nothing but a numbers game, and a smoke screen for what
isn’t happening—the education of Louisville’s black student
question that presents itself, is there more good than harm in this system,
appears, unfortunately, to be beside the point.
The primary goal of a scholastic institution is education, not racial
integration—education, not social engineering.
If racial integration can be achieved at the same time education is,
and it can be if real educational success is in place, then whatever system
will bring this about should be the one implemented.
The plain fact is that this can be done by means of the same
incentives than run the rest of our individual lives—competition and
freedom of choice—and with no increase in cost (actually a reduction in
the costs now incurred).
Louisville school busing program is in court at this time.
The argument is about racial quotas—sending kids to one school or
another either wholly or largely based on race—in order to achieve racial
‘balance,’ or ‘diversity,’ or even ‘equity.’
This obviously has less to do with education than racial politics.
Magazine recently produced a story on the Louisville battles (12/4/2006).
It makes the initial point that when busing was struck down as a
viable integration tool in 1991, school districts tended to re-segregate.
TIME goes on to note:
“Many school districts have given up trying to break up racial
concentrations and instead are working to deal with the achievements gaps
that accompany largely segregated schools…” and up to that point they
are correct in both their assessment and their seeming approval of this
method of attacking the problem of black educational underachievement.
But then they drop the bomb with the rest of the sentence: “—a de
facto return to the separate-but-equal idea that Brown
v. Board of Ed. (1954) sought to abolish.”
This commentary by TIME is
exactly what keeps this political war moving forward.
That the magazine would continue to focus on the failed and discarded
goal of segregationists during the century following the U.S. Civil War,
which is not the goal of the anti-busing contingent, is simply fuel to the
fire of bad policy. One has to
wonder what in the world they were thinking when they added their editorial
who are opposed to busing to achieve racial balance are focused on the
disease, not the symptoms. The
disease of continued black underachievement in society, not just school,
cannot be rectified by moving child-pawns across the educational landscape,
it can only be improved by making the education itself better.
Who is in any given classroom is far from the magical ingredient the
educational administrators claim it is.
This is window-dressing for the real issue, why are black students, a
half-century after Brown, still so far behind whites?
educational system in any school district will improve only when and where
there is an incentive to improve. Incentive
is in effect when there are consequences for failure to perform.
When parents can choose the schools their children will attend, then
schools will have to compete for students. That is called free-market
education. Free-market economics
has, for centuries, produced the magnificent progress human beings have
achieved across the globe, and free-market education will produce the same
results in American education. It
is just as sure that without competition, schools will not fundamentally
need neither more administrators rearranging the batting order of their last
place team, nor a new stadium in which to play.
We do not need more funding to make teacher/players who have no
incentive to improve, meaning who pay no penalty for not producing educated
children, more comfortable and less inclined to institute any change for any
reason. As long as symptoms are
treated, as long as kids are sent 75 minutes on a bus, with a promise that
they’ll do better simply because they took the ride, the educational
system as a whole will not change.
TIME story goes on to talk, at
length, about ‘diversity’ being valuable—and no doubt it is as an
ultimate social goal. But
wouldn’t it be more valuable, if after receiving a good education, black
children could become successful participants in our economic system, so
they could then choose what neighborhood in which to live—and achieve
racial integration economically, which is the only lasting way it will
happen? Diversity is not the
goal of an educational system except as a byproduct—education is the goal,
and diversity will flow from equal educational achievement, not from sitting
a black child next to a white one seven hours a day.
Louisville “educators” pride themselves in their achievements in
diversity and busing—because they can’t have much pride in how they’re
doing their primary job.
is happening in Louisville is the classic mistake of social
engineering—looking at a short term solution to a long-term problem, and
feeling good for what little has been achieved (black and white students
sitting next to one another in class). Instead,
these educators should be looking to a long term solution (black and white
kids being independently economically successful and living next to one
another by choice) and a resolution of the problem on a permanent basis.
The Louisville program is designed to protect the educators who want
no competition that will point up the deficiencies in the program, not its
participants. This is the Big
Lie. In the 1950s the Big Lie
was that there was a Communist under every bed, today it is that there is
something wrong with the society, not the educational system.
It is the failure of the educational system that keeps the society
stuck where it is.
states that the system of mass busing “has maintained not only integrated
schools but also community peace,” as though, without busing Louisville
will travel back to the days of lunch counter sit-ins and cross-burning.
Shame on these administrators for so misleading black parents while
concurrently trying to intimidate their white counterparts.
is no impediment to community peace in Louisville, certainly none that will
be threatened by a better school system that does not involve forced busing.
There is also no threat to peace found in educational choice,
whatever form that choice takes—vouchers, tax credits, direct educational
transfer payments to parents, school choice.
There is vast gain to be made when the option, and that is all it is,
to reform, or remove the grip teacher’s unions and administrators have
over educational alternatives, is offered to parents.
Change must be effected from outside, because it hasn’t been
achieved from within.
reports that everyone seems happy—attendance at public schools is inching
up compared to private school attendance—and the vocal lawyer who opposed
busing came in last in a school board election where he promised a return to
“neighborhood schools.” If a
return to neighborhood schools would improve educational performance, that
candidate would have likely won—for the right reason.
However, a return to neighborhood schools is neither the solution nor
even the issue—the issue is education: substance, not form.
has the greater incentive to get a good education for children—parents,
teachers, administrators, politicians? The
question obviously answers itself. If
parents and kids become partners with the schools every incentive to create
a successful system is in place.
Louisville the unfortunate proof is in the pudding.
The TIME article notes:
Thirty years of seating black students next to white ones has failed to
one say more about the managers in Louisville—time not to change the
batting order, but the batters. The
school district and its opponents should get out of court and into a new
mode of thinking—simply offer within the school system what works in the
country as a whole—choice—simple, free, proven, effective—choice.
Supreme Court of the United States, which faces the supposedly Solomon-like
decision that has to be made (busing for diversity vs. educational
excellence by competition) should step out of its robes, as it did in 1954
in the Brown case, and simply
order school choice. Remove the
teachers union’s monopoly on bad education and let’s see what happens.
The story says that “…racial integration reduces prejudice and
prepares students to enter a diverse workforce.”
Is this a joke? Who can
create a diverse workforce with kids who are 25% deficient in reading and
34% deficient in math? Exactly
how does that reduce racial prejudice? What
diversity are we going to achieve by offering these poorly educated students
to employers—who’s going to hire them?
It isn’t about diversity, it is about education.
This clouding of the issue harms everyone, but one group in
particular—black students, black parents—and thus black achievement.
school choice diversity of the student body will be achieved as each child
is allowed to attend any school. Diversity
becomes a side benefit, which is what it should be, of school attendance.
Educational excellence will become the main effect—which is what
schooling is supposed to be about, isn’t it?
Not social engineering at the expense of the student’s long-term
prospects, which is social-engineering that achieves exactly the opposite of
what it intends to do. The goal
is to further integrate blacks into the mainstream of economic and social
opportunity. This is not about
race, it is about education. Can’t
someone please tell this to the educational monopolists in Louisville?
This article first appeared in Conservative Battleline and was initially titled Education Choice.