G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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Boston mayor Thomas Menino – the guy who most recently made news by refusing to eat Chick-fil-a – is now fighting back against the public school busing plan which spends over $80 million annually in order to ensure a proper level of classroom diversity. Problem is, in a white majority city, Boston public schools are only 13% white. From the New York Times piece:
“Children are being bused now because they have been bused for 40 years and no one has had the political courage to dismantle it,” said Lawrence DiCara, a former Boston city councilor who supported busing in the 1970s and is writing a book about the city in that era. “Now, there are no white kids to be integrated. Everyone is being randomly bused. It doesn’t make sense.”
Before we hold up Menino (whose shares DiCara’s view) as some sort of hero for the cause of meritocracy and free choice, it should be noted that his decision now is only about money. There are basically no white people for him to infringe upon in order to earn political points across the rest of the city. This is the opposite of the Field of Dreams approach. Instead of “if you build it, they will come”, it’s now “if they leave, you will tear it down.”
One suspects that the proponents of busing and aggressive desegregation didn’t see that coming. Back when busing and desegregation was being pushed, activists and organizers pushing such measures based their proposal on idealism: that individuals don’t find ways to maximize utility for themselves and for their families. To that end, they will move or they will inconvenience their family budget.
Bring in Good Men Project founder Tom Matlack. He’s a Bostonian:
I’m the son of civil rights workers who risked their lives in Mississippi in the summer of 1964. That doesn’t mean much in terms of my racial sophistication other than the topic has been on my mind since the time I could walk. But the data in the article made me want to puke.
The real question is what happened to all the white kids? They still live in the city. They just no longer go to public schools. Antidotally (sic), I have a partial answer. My son goes to Boston College High, a Jesuit school, in South Boston along with 1,600 other boys. Where the public schools are 87% minority, BC High is 87% white.
I realize the hypocrisy of what I am saying here. But I am not about to send my son to public school when he has the option of going to a school where he can learn how to be a good man (“a man for others,” as they say there) and receive a first rate education. But then if I, a guy who at least thinks about the implication of that fact, is unwilling to support the public system who else is going to?
I don’t pretend to have the answer here other than to say that busing didn’t work. The data here in Boston, and I would expect in every major city in the country, shows that we have a two-tiered educational system between that haves and the have-nots which all too often breaks down on racial lines. And as long as that is the case we are all in a heap of trouble.