In the United States, millions upon millions of children attend public schooling. These millions of children come from every background; African American, Caucasian, Asian, Latin, etc. All of these ethnicities go to our public schools. Not only are children categorized into different ethnic groups, but also economic groups.
Children from low, middle, and high-income families all attend public schooling. Because of all these societal groups going to school together, public schooling can truly be characterized as an engine for multicultural education. However, due to barriers within society (e. g. racial discrimination and economic barriers and stereotypes), some students are not being taught in a multicultural environment.
Due to this problem and the importance that most of society places upon multicultural education, school busing takes place. Busing is a very important and controversial method that is practiced to improve multicultural education to those who have had very little, if any, experience with it. Busing is also an engine used to end segregation within our schools. Equality was the reason for the start of busing in the first place. We will discuss the definition of busing and whom it affects. We will discuss the important events that occurred before and after the landmark court case of Brown Vs.
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The Board of Education, which touched upon the issue of equality. Lastly, we will discuss the pros and cons of school busing. DEFINITION OF SCHOOL BUSING When most people think of the word school busing, they get the mental picture of a big yellow school bus. This big, yellow school bus goes out to the towns’ neighborhoods and picks up all the towns’ kids and brings them to school to receive their educations’. On most occasions, they are brought to the nearest school that is usually within their own neighborhood. Technically, this picture is correct, but it is not the same type of busing we will be discussing.
The school busing we will be discussing is when a child from one neighborhood is picked up by a bus to attend a school in a totally different (sometimes far away) neighborhood. This is done even when a student lives close to the school within their neighborhood. So the question is, why is there a need for this type of busing and whom does it affect? In order to answer these questions, we must discuss the revolutionary court case of Brown Vs. The Board of Education. Not only must we discuss the specifics of this case, but also we must look at why was there a need for this case and what are the after effects of this case. BROWN VS.
BOARD OF EDUCATION AND ITS’ AFFECTS When the American Civil war took place in the early 1860’s, the United States had already had a long-standing history of over 300 years of slavery. Millions of African Americans were considered slaves and because of this they were treated horribly and considered unequal to the White Americans. In 1862, Abraham Lincoln, the Union President at that time, issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This proclamation stated that all slaves living within the Union are to be freed. This freed all slaves that were living in the Union states, but did not free the slaves that were in the Confederate States, of which there was a vast majority over the Union.
The slaves in the Confederate states were finally freed when the Civil War ended in 1865, when the Confederate States rejoined the Union. Soon after, in the late 1800’s, the 14 th Amendment was added to the United States Constitution, which stated that all citizens are to be considered and treated equally. Even though African-Americans were now considered equal in American society, most white Americans did not like the idea of sharing the same public facilities with African-Americans. Because of this, public facilities were segregated into “Black facilities” and “White facilities.” In 1896, after the Plessy Vs.
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Ferguson Court case, the Supreme Court found that segregation was not unconstitutional as long as the facilities were “separate but equal.” In most cases, these segregated facilities were not equal. White Americans had nice, cold, clean, and well-maintained water fountains to drink from. African-Americans did not. White Americans had clean public restrooms while African-Americans did not. White Americans had clean, well-maintained restaurants. African-Americans did not.
These are but a few examples in which African-Americans were found to be treated unequally. However, the most observable way in which African-Americans were treated unequally was in the educational system. White students had well maintained schools. These schools were big and held many different grade levels. They were also financed very well and had the supplies and capabilities to educate their students very well and thoroughly. African-Americans, on the other hand, had poorly maintained schools.
They were very poorly financed and held many different grade levels in very small numbers of classrooms. Not only were the facilities unequal, but also the curriculum was unequal. The curriculum was geared towards the White American society instead of the African-American society. Also, African-Americans had to sometimes travel long distances to get to their segregated schools, even when a white school was in their neighborhood or very close to their own homes. This was the case for an African-American girl named Linda Brown. During the early 1950’s, Linda Brown was a third grade student in the Topeka, Kansas School District.
Due to her color, Linda had to walk one mile through a railway yard to reach her colored elementary school. Her father did not like this idea because a white elementary school was only a few blocks away from her house. Her father, Oliver Brown, tried to enroll her in the white elementary school but was rejected by the principal of the school. Angered by this, Mr. Brown sought help from the local NAACP chapter.
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The NAACP did just that and in 1951, they requested an injunction that would forbid the segregation of Topeka’s public schools. On the dates of June 25 th and 26 th 1951, the U. S. District Court for the District of Kansas heard Browns’ case. The NAACP argued that segregated schools sent a false message to children. The false message that colored students were inferior to white students; therefore, the schools were inherently unequal.
One of the witnesses’s for the NAACP testified that: .”.. if the colored children are denied the experience in school of associating with white children, who represent 90 percent of our national society in which these colored children must live, then the colored child’s curriculum is being greatly curtailed. The Topeka curriculum or any curriculum cannot be equal under segregation.” The Board of Education’s defense was that they were simply preparing colored children for the segregation they would face in adulthood. These two arguments gave the court a difficult task in deciding. The judges did agree with the NAACP witnesses and stated that segregation does have a harmful effect on colored children because the sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. But on the other hand, the Plessy Vs.
Ferguson court case allowed separate but equal school systems, and no Supreme Court decision over turned it yet. Because of this, the court ruled in favor of the Board of Education. Brown and the NAACP appealed to the Supreme Court on October 1, 1951, however their case was not the only case. Other cases from South Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware were combined to challenge school segregation.
On December 9, 1952 the Supreme Court heard the first case, but did not reach a decision. On December 7-8 1953, the court heard the re arguement and requested that both sides discuss the 14 th amendment. This reagruement did very little but the court had to make a decision. On May 17, 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren read the decision: ” We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of races, even though the physical facilities and other “tangible” factors may be equal, deprive children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does…
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We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14 th Amendment.” It was then decided that desegregation must occur in order to have a truly equal educational system that equally and thoroughly educates students from both ethnicities. This is where the idea of school busing comes into play.
WHEN DID BUSING BEGIN AND FOR WHAT REASON? School busing began in the late 1950’s and into the 1960’s (although it took several years before most of Americas school systems were desegregated).
Black students were bused into formally all white schools. Because of this, some white students began to hassle and threaten the new students arriving at their schools. On one such occasion, the Governor of Alabama (George Wallace at the time) literally blocked any black students from attending his Alma Mater of the University of Alabama.
Another notable incident occurred in the early 1970’s in South Boston. Black students were bused into South Boston High School; an all white mostly Catholic school. Violence and rioting soon broke out in protest of busing black students into an all white school. The Brown Vs. Board of Education case did end school segregation (eventually), but at a cost.
Racial tensions within schools rose and lives were lost in the rioting. But as new generations came into power of our educational systems these tensions subsided a bit but not completely. So school busing did help the desegregation process, however school busing was later seen as an engine to enhance multicultural education. Our next question is how does busing help multicultural education? What is so great about this idea of busing? Busing did its purpose it was set out to do, why is it still continuing? WHAT IS SO GREAT ABOUT BUSING Lets take a look at an inner city (ghetto) neighborhood.
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This could be any city. For the purposes of this class and what we discussed concerning this subject within our class, lets look at Wilmington. If one would walk down an inner city, residential street within Wilmington, one will notice that there are more minority (African-Americans in particular) groups living there than there are majority groups (whites).
Go to a school within this neighborhood and in all likely hood, one will observe more minority students than majority students. Why is that? Unfortunately, because of the racism felt within the country prior to the Civil Rights Acts, large numbers of minority families (African-Americans) had poor incomes. There are two reasons for this.
One reason is that the African Americans did not receive a satisfactory formal education due to the trickle down effect of the Jim Crow Laws of the late 1800’s. And as most people should know, a formal education means better and more job opportunities. A second reason is racism itself. Quite possibly, most employers (who were white) were racist towards African-Americans and therefore chose not to employ them.
The point is that most African Americans, within the inner cities, became economically poor and therefore could not afford to live in the suburbs, where most White Americans were living. Therefore African American children, within these cities, attended schools where most of the students were of African-American or minority descent. Is this a multicultural environment? Of course not, these students are not being exposed to cultures other than their own. School is supposed to educate children about the world we live in and how to succeed in it.
We live in a multicultural world. How can a child succeed in a multicultural world if the child only has had experience within its own culture? In most cases, they cannot. This is where busing can come in and help this child receive a more multicultural education. But what is so great about a multicultural education? Lets take a look at the Banks article we read in our class.
One reason multicultural education is good is that it allows students to understand themselves and their culture better. Banks argues that we can only get a full view of our own backgrounds and behaviors by viewing them from the perspectives of other racial and ethnic groups. A second reason is that it provides cultural and ethnic alternatives. White Anglo-Americans can learn about the cultural differences and history of African-Americans. They receive a broader knowledge of the world they live in. This can possibly lead to the breakdown of stereotypes and greater cooperation between two different ethnic groups.
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Without busing, there is a very good chance that multicultural education cannot happen. However, busing does have its bad side. WHAT IS SO BAD ABOUT BUSING? One bad side of busing is also a good argument for busing; it brings ethnic groups together. This mixing of ethnic cultures can lead to tensions due to racism. Due to this tension, school violence can break out as was seen in the 1950’s and 60’s. Another reason that busing can be harmful is the amount of money that needs to be spent to buy buses and to maintain them.
Some students are bused several miles to school. This causes wear and tear on the bus. Buses only get about four miles per gallon of fuel and therefore a lot of money is spent on paying for the gas. (And as one should know, bus exhaust is very dirty and hurts the environment in which we live. ) Where does all this money come from that is being spent on the busing system? The money is coming from the taxpayers’ pocket, and I have yet to find one person who enjoys paying taxes. And as discussed in our class, busing pits the courts against the parents of those being bused.
The courts are saying that it is not unconstitutional to bus inner city kids into suburban schools, therefore it can be done. The parents do not like this because… 1. They are paying tax money to support it. Tax money they could use to support their families with their limited income.
2. The schools their children are going to are so far away that in order for their children to participate in after-school activities, the parent must travel that long distance to go pick up their child. This takes more money out of their pockets to pay for gas and maintenance on their cars. In some cases, these families might not have cars and therefore the child is excluded from participating in these after-school activities. 3. The neighborhoods that have these schools make the parents feel uncomfortable because they are not familiar with the neighborhood or its residents.
This is a safety concern for their children. This could also make them feel uncomfortable because they do not know where exactly their child is. 4. The parents themselves do not like the idea of their kids mixing with cultures other than their own.
They have the fear that their kids will assimilate into the “White American World” and leave their primate culture and its’ customs behind. THE NEED FOR BUSING NOW Despite the Supreme Court ruling of desegregation in public schools, segregation actually increased during the last decade according to a Harvard University study. This study cited that seventy percent of African American students and more than one third of other minority students attended schools were the student body was overwhelmingly minority. This study also found that the average white student attended a school were more than eighty percent of the student body was white.
A possible reason for this is the 1974 ban, which the Supreme Court put on desegregation across city-suburban boundaries. The researchers stated that this left central city schools overwhelmingly poor and segregated. One of the researchers, Gary Or field, stated… .” White children are growing up in a society that is going to become more than half minority, and they are almost entirely isolated from those minorities. These suburban kids are vastly unprepared for the future.” This study also cited a few recommendations to stop this segregation and increase integration. One recommendation was to draw foundation support to continue local programs aimed at integration.
This includes school busing. School busing is very important, especially now. Our world is becoming more and more diversified every day. And as our children grow up and become leaders of this world, they need to understand the great many cultures of this world and they need to understand that they will be living in a world that is very diversified. In order to succeed in this world, one must be able to work within this world.
That includes living and working with the different cultures of this world. This also includes learning with these different cultures. There is so much tension in our world today that hundreds of people are dying from conflict. Conflict that could be avoided if people understood and learned to live with the different cultures that are around them. School busing in this country can ease the cultural tensions, but can also flare the tensions.
In my opinion, busing is very important. Like we have discussed, busing helps promote multiculturalism. And I believe multiculturalism, at least to me, is very important. I want to be a well-rounded and cultured student.
I would like to see more students like that. WORKS CITED 1. Banks, J. (1999).
Goals and Misconceptions. Allyn and Bacon Inc. Brown V. Board of Education. November 17, 2001.
web Allen Murphy. Brown V. Board of Education of Topeka. World Book Online Americas Edition. web November 17, 2001. 4.
Study: School Segregation Increased During 1990’s. November 30, 2001. web Kool, J. (1991).
Savage Inequalities. New York: Crown Publishing Corp. 6. Edward W. Knapp man, ed.
, Great American Trials (Detroit: Visible Ink, 1994) 467. 7. Benjamin Munn Ziegler, ed. , Desegregation and the Supreme Court (Boston: D. C. Heath and Company, 1958).