Court-ordered busing and American Schools

Across the country, children are starting school. And with the start of a new school year comes the ubiquitous yellow school bus.

For decades, the school bus has been a common sight from August to May. But the yellow school buses were not always chugging along on the highways with their cargo of children.

David Aretha, author of With All Deliberate Speed: Court-ordered Busing and American Schools, wrote that back in the first half of the twentieth century, “Many districts engaged in gerrymandering, the practice of drawing district lines unfairly to suit one’s advantage. In addition, housing segregation resulted in school segregation…. Realizing that they weren’t welcomed in the ‘nice’ areas, [African Americans] settled in black neighborhoods, where the schools were usually inferior.”

After the Supreme Court handed down the decision that segregation was unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, schools began to integrate. Aretha wrote, “In many communities, black students were bused to predominantly white schools in order to achieve integration.”

This mandated integration was unpopular, not only in the South, but throughout the country. Black students were subjected to angry crowds. One woman in Boston recalled that her children came home from school with “glass in their hair. They were scared. And they were shivering and crying.”

Aretha wrote, “Busing, which federal judges instituted in many American cities, was called the ‘Vietnam of the 1970s’–a controversial, polarizing issue that put millions of people on edge.”

Today, most integration busing programs have been terminated. According to Aretha, a large number of schools are still segregated. Charter and magnet schools have sprung up as a way to combat segregation, but they are not always successful. Children are now bused for convenience more than a need to change. And segregation still rears its ugly head.

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information on court-ordered busing, check out David Aretha’s With All Deliberate Speed: Court-ordered Busing and American Schools (ISBN 9781599351810)

Published in: on August 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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