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[mpls] "Forced Bussing"
Date:     8/31/2002 4:07:32 PM Central Daylight Time

In a message dated 8/30/2002 7:26:46 PM Central Daylight Time, lynnell
mickelsen writes:

>   Lynnell sez: Darling, we've been there. Done that. It was
>  called court-ordered busing and we did it for almost 20 years in
>  Minneapolis and around the country. It was a noble effort in theory
>  that proved to be a colossal failure in practice.  Nearly everywhere
>  it was tried, the white middle-class left the system in droves; black
>  test scores continued to lag or even go down. And parents of all
>  colors hated having their kids on buses for hours and hours.
>  Especially when there was often a school within a few blocks of their
>  home.

I did not like the control-choice desegregation plan that was replaced
by the Community School Plan because of the long bus rides and the
fact that most of the students who attended a particular school were
scattered over a large part of the city (I was a custodial parent
of 2 MPS students in the 1980s)  I have always had a preference for
a desegregation plan with defined attendance areas, very much like
the Community School Plan, except the goal should be to integrate,
not segregate a diverse student population.  

I think that parents of all colors, tax brackets and levels of educational
attainment want their children to get an education which maximizes their
intellectual development and opportunities for employment and further
education after high school.  By and large, parents from high poverty
neighborhoods on the North side and parents from low poverty
neighborhoods in SW Minneapolis want the same educational
outcomes for their children.  

Did "force bussing" and other policies designed to close the test score
gap significantly reduce the gap during the 1970's and 1980's?  
The answer is yes, at least if you are using data from the National
Assessment of Educational Progress as your yardstick. Differences
in average NAEP math and reading scores between black and white
students declined from 1971 until the late 1980s. Since then the
NAEP test score gap between has steadily increased.  

I don't think that "forced busing" (race-mixing) was a big factor
in producing white middle-class flight from Minneapolis and other
cities in the Northern US.  Blacks were moving in and middle
class whites were moving out of the inner cities during the entire
post world war 2 era. You can't attribute the migration of anyone
to "forced busing" prior to the 1970s because there wasn't any.  
White flight happened prior to "forced bussing" because middle
class whites had access to housing in the suburbs and in the
better neighborhoods in Minneapolis, and blacks didn't.  And white
middle class flight from certain neighborhoods in Minneapolis
continued since the early 1970s because whites had much
better access than blacks to housing outside of the city's low-income

I suspect some white parents moved out of Minneapolis so their
kids wouldn't have to go to school with black kids.  And other whites
stayed in or moved to Minneapolis despite their racial attitudes, and in
some cases because they actually want their kids to see something
other than white faces at school.  However, I think that the biggest
factor that motivates a parent to keep their children at a public school
or withdraw them is the quality of instruction and classroom climate.

-Doug Mann, King Field, the new 8th ward
Mann for School Board Web site: