A lawsuit by the parents of white students prompted the Boston school board to stop using busing as a tool to integrate schools. The lawsuit alleged that the busing policy discriminates against white children by preventing them access to local schools.Under the new system, which will take effect in fall of 2000, race will not determine a student’s school. Instead, the school department will evaluate other criteria when placing students in schools: the proximity of the child’s home to the school; whether he or she has siblings at the school; and the results of a yearly school-choice lottery.
Ironically, the program, which began under court order in 1974, was originally used to protect minority students from segregationist policies. Now, twenty-five years later, it is the whites who feel they need protection. However, in both instances, the students and their parents were victims of government policies that unnecessarily intruded into their lives. The blacks suffered from government segregation while the whites endured 25 years of government discrimination.
The government devises policies that might look good on paper but never considers the life of individuals. Black students needed better schools, not a ride to a white school. Instead, like a tornado, the government picked them up everyday and tossed them off at a school far from their home and their friends, who were bused to yet another distant school.
A better solution would have been to simply end segregation, equalize per-pupil education spending, and allow local residents, both black and white, to attend their local schools. Integration would have then occurred at a natural pace.
Instead, busing resulted in extreme shifts in the city’s racial makeup, as whites moved out of the city. Forced integration was about as successful as pre-arranged marriages.
Busing and integration are based on the flawed notion that friendships, school relationships, and even work environments are automatically better if they involve people from mixed backgrounds. In reality, most people prefer to have relationships with people that have similar backgrounds, experiences, and cultures. For example, entire neighborhoods in New York City, such as Chinatown and Little Italy, are rooted in a similar language and religion.
The end of busing is simply the end of another failed, government social experiment. In this particular instance, Boston students were the victims. Maybe the whole experience taught Boston students a valuable lesson: if the government is driving don’t get on the bus.