BUSING FAILED. IT’S ABOUT TIME WE SAY SO – Marilyn Armstrong

Watching the Democratic riots (aka “debates”)  the other night, I was surprised that Biden didn’t tell the real truth about busing. Because this is a subject with which we are intimately familiar here. Garry covered Boston’s busing crises and has an Emmy for his work. He interviewed white families, black families, every family. He interviewed politicians, teachers, and the kids who got bused.

I think by the time he was done with the story, he had interviewed almost everyone in Boston. Everyone had an opinion, but the most pointed ones were from the families who were directly affected by busing and the kids who were bused.

Because you see, the outcome has been clear for years: BUSING DIDN’T WORK.

Not one state exceeded 49%!

Educators and other organizations have done study-after-study about it. It did not improve race relations or education. It absolutely failed. However well-intentioned the idea, busing kids long distances to schools which did not welcome the students and where they would not make friends or get a better education didn’t solve any problems. It probably created new ones.

The real issue?

We need to invest in our schools. Money. Schools need money. Teachers need salaries. Schools need better textbooks and materials. Laboratories, computers. It’s not about better cafeterias and larger playing fields.

It’s about better learning.

Moving kids of different races, so you can say you have somehow achieved diversity, is nonsense. I’m surprised Biden didn’t bother to point it out. For that matter, I’m shocked that Kamala didn’t point it out either. I’m sure she knows as well as we do. Should Biden have supported busing despite not believing in it? Because it was the currently “right thing to do”?

I think not, but then again — I’m not a follower of trends or fads, no matter how well-meant.

Our school issues — local and national — are ruined by lack of funding. By an unwillingness of states, towns, and the federal government to spend enough money to make our schools what they ought to be. To pay teachers what they are worth. To make teaching an attractive profession.

Whenever a government runs short of money, the first thing they cut is education. They refuse to buy quality textbooks or even school supplies. The result is a nation full of stupid, ignorant people. Maybe some of them would have been stupid and ignorant anyway, but I’m sure the lack of education didn’t help.

Rebuilt Uxbridge High School. I’m sure the classrooms are nicer, but is education better?

It’s time to start questioning the idea that diversity automatically improves education and thus physically moving children from one school to another is in itself solving some educational problem. It isn’t.

In effect, what happened is anyone who could afford it sent their children to private schools. Since both sets of schools involved in Boston busing were in poor neighborhoods — no accident — the result was non-education for everyone.

If we don’t invest in education, we’ll never have educated students of any color. Bad schools produce poor education. If schools are sufficiently bad, the result is uneducated students.

We talk a good game per education in the U.S., but we don’t live it. We don’t contribute to it. So while we worry about college debt, how about we put a little of that concern into worrying about teaching kids to read and understand what they are reading? Teach them some real history, not the crap they get in their old, out-of-date (and probably never accurate even when they were new) textbooks.



Categories: Education, Government, Marilyn Armstrong, reading, reporting, Teaching and teachers

Tags: , , , , , ,

22 replies

  1. I couldn’t agree more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Take the billions that Trump wants to spend on his vanity wall and invest it in education. We lose nothing and gain the future.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m glad to hear Garry’s take on the matter since I’m sure he would have done a thorough investigation of the subject. There’s no short cut “We need to invest in our schools.”
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That makes sense to me Marilyn. It seems politicians will do anything to improve education except spend any money on it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Anything except raising teacher’s salaries and getting the right equipment and books. ANYTHING else.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Tas, as Marilyn mentioned, I was in the middle of what I honestly call – a FIASCO. On center stage, it played as a racial divide between Boston’s White and Minority communities. It played well in the media – especially national and international media where they didn’t understand the LOCAL sentiments. The local news stations did a little better when they tried.
      Boston was sarcastically labelled as “The Athens Of America” in this period. They key – which I discovered – by LISTENING to students and parents – White and minority — was LACK of quality education. Busing the poor, low income kids (Black and White) didn’t solve the problem of inferior education. Old, outdated textbooks. Antiquated curriculums. Teachers disenchanted by the lack of respect in pay and regard. Oversized classrooms where teaching was a mission impossble.
      Time and time again, I heard the same complaints from communities that reportedly were racially divided by the federally mandated busing. Students were transported from substandard schools in one community to sunstandard schools in another community. Few mentioned this. Most said it was a racial divide. That was a cheap way to deflect the ball dropped by courts, legislators and local pols who saw this as a way to build their constituencies by playing the race card instead of dealing with the REAL issue — a lack of QUALITY education in Boston’s low income communities.
      Once I heard the anger over lack of quality education – repeated over and over – by White and Black families, I went with THAT as the CORE of my reports. Truth be told — I usually led with the visual images of anger — angry crowds shouting racial epithets, school buses stoned, students threatened. Those were the images over emphasized and inaccurately interpreted by national-international journalists and commentators.
      I often tried to explain things to the network reporters but they blew me off, labelling me as a local unable to see the big picture. It was just the oppsite. THEY didn’t see the picture.
      Many local pols and community leaders – who knew better — preyed on their constituents for votes instead of trying to calm the political firestorm which often turned violent. Yes, we the local media, played the violence up. No escaping that error. Efforts to explain the education issue were left to minority affairs shows which aired while most people slept.
      I was proud my body of work earned an emmy for coverage of that infamous era.
      Truthfully, it was a bittersweet honor.
      There’s no excuse – 50 years later – for Presidential hopefuls to use busing as a political tool, once again ignoring the bigger issue of that volatile period.
      SHAME on you!

      Liked by 5 people

      • People seem to have short memories and I can only think that the candidates think “We have to do something about education. This is something so let’s do it.” If Biden was not an advocate of busing in the past I can only assume that his advisors have told him he’d look bad if he came out against it. People are so concerned about how things look now rather than actually trying to find a solution that works.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Garry, what a revelation your comment here is! Of course, wider circles know NOTHING about all of this! Your sentence It played well in the media – especially national and international media where they didn’t understand the LOCAL sentiments. made things clear. I only ever know what I gather from Colbert’s & others offered snippets on YTube and I thought that Kamala really smashing it …. I’m only glad I don’t have to offer an opinion as I realise, day after day, that we mostly, all of us, know NOTHING, really. Things are hardly ever what they seem.
        Have a friend living in our house for the past year, she became a very, very late teacher in France and I’m beyond shock at what the schools and teachers are NOT offered. I would have flatly refused believing any of what I encounter through her school-life, if I didn’t see it day after day. No material, everything has to be searched and gathered online, no money, the right to do something like 200 photocopies PER YEAR (classes of 24+ kids), BUT red tape and demands to the teachers to do always more writing, observing and describing those children – – it’s really unbelievable. She’s giving up after two years and all I can offer her for comfort is saying that she made, all on her own, a huge, positive difference for those classes she had.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sounds just like home. We wonder why education is so poor when we treat teachers and students and the schools like they are worth nothing. It’s no surprise. And that no one understands what busing was really about only proves that they are too young to have lived through it. It made great headlines. Solved NO problems and created plenty of new problems that have yet to be solved.

          Liked by 1 person

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