It is often said that American liberals haven’t had a new idea since the 1960s. That is true, actually. No bad idea, apparently, is ever permanently dispatched; they just keep getting recycled. (See: socialism.) This time it is busing. Here in the Twin Cities, a lawyer who brought a lawsuit to compel busing decades ago is at it again, with his son as co-counsel. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
Civil rights attorneys suing the state of Minnesota for failing to educate poor and minority children called Thursday for a metro-wide integration plan and other remedies to address increasingly segregated schools. …
In St. Paul and Minneapolis, the lawsuit alleges, the districts have drawn school attendance boundaries that place a large number of minority and poor children in certain schools, while other schools in the districts have large concentrations of mostly white and wealthy children. …
Charter schools also have “promoted and exacerbated segregation,” the lawsuit said, by marketing themselves to parents as providers of a “racially-oriented education, appropriate only to a particular racial group” or by attracting white students in districts with shifting demographics.
The lawsuit alleges that children do better in integrated classrooms, and therefore asks the court to “order the defendants [the State of Minnesota] to provide the plaintiffs forthwith with an adequate and desegregated education.” All right then! So let it be written, so let it be done.
What this means is that the lawyers want the state to, in effect, take over the various school districts in the metropolitan area and redistribute students among the schools according to formulas based on skin color. So kids would be bused for many miles, to schools far from their homes, so that “proper” ratios among children of various skin tones can be achieved.
Busing–because it worked so well the first time! Busing was one of the great liberal disasters of recent times. Federal courts around the country took charge of local districts and dictated educational policy. As a practical matter, this amounted to nothing more than busing children to distant schools for no reason other than skin color. This achieved nothing, and turned out to be highly destructive. After 20 or 30 years of court tyranny over local schools, liberals gave up and beat a retreat.
Why would anyone want to re-live this experience? Well, if liberals knew how to learn from experience, they wouldn’t be liberals.
For an infinitely saner look at race and the public schools, see this op-ed by our good friend Mitch Pearlstein, also in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: “Racism in schools is overstated.”