COURT-ORDERED BUSING HAS FAILED
Dennis L. Cuddy, Ph.D.
The new school year has begun and millions of children are riding buses to school. Unfortunately, many of them are riding as a result of court-ordered busing, which actually is a subversion of the civil rights movement to protect minorities.
The purpose of the movement was to protect the rights of minorities to live, sit, eat and drink anywhere they wished, among other things. It was NOT for government to tell blacks that only a certain number of them could live in any particular neighborhood, sit and eat at any particular lunch counter, or drink from any particular water fountain. However, almost 50 years of court-ordered busing has been based on just such a principle when it comes to school assignments.
Courts almost invariably have ordered racial-balance busing to integrate schools. But in order to achieve this balance in any school system, the minority population must be bused in inverse proportion to the white population. Since blacks make up about 12% of the U.S. population, that means 88% of them would have to be bused away from their neighborhood schools to achieve racial balance, but only 12% of the white population would have to be bused. This is obviously DISCRIMINATION against minorities.
And have you ever tried to study on a school bus? It's practically impossible. Could that be the reason minority academic achievement is lower than that of whites? The courts have been denying a very large percentage of black children an hour or more study time per day (while they are on a school bus) that only a relatively small percentage of whites are being denied.
Moreover, all the research shows parental involvement is critical to students' academic achievement. But if a very high percentage of black students are attending schools across town from their parents, this makes parental involvement extremely difficult. This is especially true for poor blacks who cannot afford long bus or taxi rides across town to attend parent-teacher meetings and other school functions.
What most minorities want is school choice. Research by Dr. Mary Anne Raywid of Hofstra University in New York has shown that "both attendance and student behavior improve in schools of choice" and "for all types of students, from the neediest to the most outstanding, alternatives seem to produce significant growth and achievement: cognitive, social and affective."
The following is a chronology of my attempt to right the wrong of liberal discrimination against minorities that court-ordered busing has caused for decades:
While teaching at UNC-Chapel Hill, I had an article in THE WASHINGTON POST (March 24, 1981) relating that court-ordered busing was discriminating against minorities. Soon thereafter, I was asked to work in the Reagan administration as a Senior Associate at the U.S. Department of Education. I was assigned to an education desegregation team, and developed a "predominant first choice (unlike freedom-of-choice) and free transportation" solution to the problem of forced busing. The Congressional Research Service response was "the remedy feature of the bill sets it apart from present bills not only because this particular remedy is offered, but also because any remedy is offered."
I immediately sent this to respected WASHINGTON POST columnist William Raspberry, who analyzed it in his column of November 5, 1982, which I followed up with a letter THE WASHINGTON POST published on November 10. These were sent to Solicitor General Rex Lee, who replied on November 24: "I had read and heard about you, and had grown to respect your views." The next step was to write a legal article for the federal government journal AMERICAN EDUCATION (May 1983), and I was then invited by the Justice Department to attend several meetings on the issue, primarily involving Assistant Attorney General William Bradford Reynolds and his deputy Charles Cooper.
The Justice Department asked me to testify before Rep. Don Edwards' subcommittee on civil and constitutional rights, which I did on June 29, 1983. Solicitor General Lee on July 18 replied: "I read the transcript of your testimony of June 29 with interest, and concluded once again that some of the soundest and most progressive thinking that is being done on this important subject is coming from you."
At this time, I was also part of a team at the National Institute of Education (NIE) within the U.S. Department of Education overseeing "a definitive research effort regarding integration and black academic achievement." I described the results in a LOS ANGELES TIMES article (May 16, 1984) as indicating that "black achievement in reading may have improved slightly in the year in which integration occurred, but black achievement in mathematics appears not to have improved at all as a result of integration."
NIE was also producing an "Effective Desegregated Schools" report, a copy of which was requested by Assistant Attorney General Reynolds, and he wrote on October 1, 1984: "Keep up the excellent work. Your voice on this issue has been instrumental in awakening the American public to the failures of racial-balance busing and the inherent strengths in alternative desegregation relief that emphasizes (a) open enrollment opportunities for those interested in moving to predominantly-other-race schools, (b) student transfer incentives (such as free transfer to the school of choice), and (c) enhanced curriculum programs. I think we have made great progress in this endeavor, and can look forward to declaring 'total victory' in the not too distant future."
The Justice Department wanted a positive solution to the problem that court-ordered busing was discriminating against minorities, and so I followed William Raspberry's advice to "get a local school district to adopt it on an experimental basis." I had already discussed the solution with the attorney for the City of Norfolk, which developed a school attendance plan that included to a large extent the principles of my proposal, and it was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals.
The opposition to mandatory busing in Norfolk was led by Nelson White, a black 45-year-old house painter, and his wife. When White asked proponents (including black proponents) of busing, "Why don't you go out and ask the people how they feel?," they would say, "We know nobody likes busing, but it's necessary." White responded to this by saying that proponents were engaging in a type of "intellectual fascism, with them making the decisons for us instead of really seeking our input."
I obtained a copy of the Norfolk school district's student test scores the year after the plan was implemented. The test scores rose, showing that no adverse academic effects occurred when blacks exercised self-determination concerning which schools best met the needs of their children. The principles of my solution were next tried in Oklahoma City, and were successfully implemented there and in many other places around the U.S.
Even black leftist W.E.B. DuBois said years ago that the black child "needs neither segregated schools nor mixed schools. What he needs is an education." Blacks are no longer the slaves of whites and should not continue to be treated as such. White liberal elitists should no longer dictate to blacks what schools their children must attend. When I taught in a public school in a black neighborhood, it was the best middle school in the city. But liberal government officials had discriminated by busing about 70% of the neighborhood blacks to inferior schools in white neighborhoods far away just for the sake of racial balance. Perhaps one day soon, though, blacks across the U.S. will be "free, free at last" to determine for themselves what schools their children will attend.
Dennis Laurence Cuddy, historian and political analyst, received a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (major in American History, minor in political science). Dr. Cuddy has taught at the university level, has been a political and economic risk analyst for an international consulting firm, and has been a Senior Associate with the U.S. Department of Education.
Cuddy has also testified before members of Congress on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice. Dr. Cuddy has authored or edited twenty books and booklets, and has written hundreds of articles appearing in newspapers around the nation, including The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and USA Today. He has been a guest on numerous radio talk shows in various parts of the country, such as ABC Radio in New York City, and he has also been a guest on the national television programs USA Today and CBS's Nightwatch.
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Courts almost invariably have ordered racial-balance busing to integrate schools. But in order to achieve this balance in any school system, the minority population must be bused in inverse proportion to the white population.