The Boston Schools Becoming Resegregated: Is It Surprising – The Lament 1/2

I’ve been away from the desegregation battles of the Boston School System since the 1970s. I was one of the attorneys representing the Boston School Committee before federal judge J. Arthur Garrity who I believe most fair-minded people agree caused immense damage to the Boston Public School system with his sledgehammer approach to the problem of equal educational opportunity for all, yes that was the basis of the suit that minority students were not receiving the same educational opportunities as whites, by numbly thinking shifting around the black and white children on buses to achieve some number balance would improve their education.

Garrity refused to consider the real world consequences of his draconian imposed orders which was the prospect of chasing whites out of the public schools in Boston into private, parochial and school districts of other cities and towns. How obtuse does one have to be to understand that white parents did not want their children bused to schools in other neighborhoods where the education was just plainly awful? How lacking in understanding were those who did not understand that black parents did not want their children transported into hostile areas fearing for their safety? Did it take more than a minimum understanding of education that little could be accomplished when heavily armed police patrolled the corridors of the school trying to keep order?

The Boston Public Schools lost its majority white student population. To compensate, each year school assignments were changed for some. White people of good faith wanting to stay in the Boston school system year after year were driven out realizing their children were just pawns to be moved around to achieve numerical pleasing ratios. Where was the education happening?

Rejected early on were the School Committee’s proposals to set up magnetic schools with the latest in educational materials which were hoped to draw students from all the schools districts thus integrating them on a voluntary basis. That would take time and Garrity had no time to waste. He was cheered on by the Boston Globe, the Bar Associations, and his suburban liberal friends who had no stake in the experiment. These unaffected whites lamented the attitude of those whites in the city. When told that the experiment might be extended to the suburbs they changed the subject.

I was there. It was 45 years ago. I lived through it going to court and listening to Garrity and the more than half-dozen counsel on the other side chastising my client the School Committee and putting together orders to achieve the impossible. I often wanted to shout out: “what has any of this to do with giving blacks equal educational opportunity?”

A lousy school is a lousy school. Making a lousy school majority white without more won’t change it from being a lousy school. Why can’t people grasp that simple fact?

On Sunday a Boston Globe headline told us the Boston Public Schools were becoming resegregated. In truth outside the examination schools, which by the way are magnetic schools, they have been segregated since the Fifties. The Globe in the article uses a strange definition of segregation, calling it intensive segregation which means “students of color occupy at least 90 percent of the seats” in a school. I guess if they occupy over 50% that’s no longer a worry. At one time it was but the ongoing departure of whites from the system requires the definition of segregation to change. We are informed in the article that nearly 60% of the schools are intensely segregated whereas twenty years ago it was 42%. It also tells us that white students  make up 14% of the enrollment in the school system so even if they were spread out equally in all the schools students of color would occupy at least 86% of the seats which is not a far cry from “intensive segregation.”

The article goes on to compare a couple of schools: the majority white Eliot K – 8 in the North End and the intensely segregated King K – 8 school where almost all attending are students of color. The differences are stark in student achievement. We are told to look at Mayor Bill de Blasio in New York City who proposes setting aside a certain proportion of the seats in the examination schools for students that cannot get into them on their merits.  It quotes people lamenting the situation as if something can be done about it. Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell says: “This is devastating.” Her solution is to “try new things.” Yes, what are they?

Gary Orfield from Los Angeles says: “I think Boston is a sad case. . . you have to think about diversity. . . . While the Boston school system doesn’t have enough white students to integrate every school, the system still has enough of them to create more racially diverse schools than what currently exist” He, like the others just talk and talk.

When I read that they say I think, “that’s nice but look at the numbers. How do you achieve it? Bring in another Garrity? Do away with examination schools? Change the standards for entry?” No one has an answer.

But there are ways.

6 thoughts on “The Boston Schools Becoming Resegregated: Is It Surprising – The Lament 1/2

  1. Yes-I remember that when it was suggested that the only way to balance schools was to Implement busing on a metropolitan basis, given the tiny size of the political environs of Boston. They are still swooning in Newton. Ron Lee and Metco-yes. Busing to Milton-no.

  2. I recall Matt asking “Do you know what it is like to not even win a MOTION in a year in court?” and recalling reading the newspaper as Garrity made representing a client a hopeless cause in that case!
    My Mom taught first grade for 40 years in Boston. She LOVED teaching at the Paul A. Dever at Columbia Point and at the project’s Administration Building there before the school was built. Every year, Mrs. Fitzgerald’s class would emerge as readers…even the years she taught the “baby class”….she had high expectations for her children and worked hard to help them reach lofty goals. Year in…year out. She taught children and those children learned.
    I am embarrassed to say that while working midnights on City Hospital ambulance during my college years (’66 through ’69), we would request a police escort into Columbia Point and wait at Kosciuszko Circle before going into it. My Mom was fearless as she closed in on 70 and loved teaching there.

  3. Bill: Most of the radical left Profs teach in Humanities (a small part of academia). Do you want to eliminate the Humanities from the college curriculum? Why? Are you down on Humanism? Being theocentric, most believing Muslims don’t see a need for such a field of study. Unfortunately, you wouldn’t be able to, efficiently, integrate technical advances into society without the Humanities (Alvin Toppler).

  4. Wa-llahi! Socialism will fix that. There just won’t be any private schools to flee to. No vouchers. Equal education for all. Put all the money and effort into public schools. Down with privilege.
    All praise to the DSA. All power to the dialectic!

  5. Great Example of the FEDS, MEDIA, ACADEMIA incinerating a great school system on the pyre of political correctness . . .forced busing, except to the suburbs . . .weren’t Boston Schools 70% White when the FEDs stepped in? and weren’t all Boston schools neighborhood schools for grammar school and all Boston High Schools open to anyone . . .who met admissions standards . . .Latin, English, Tech, Trade . . .I remember in the 60s playing football at White Stadium against students of all races . . . .but the FEDs had to gut the neighborhoods-and rip families apart . . .one family three kids walked to the school down the street until the FEDs said all three would be shipped across the City to different schools . . .

    2. That’s a great photo of ordinary American Citizens fighting back against the Tyrranical FEDS, MEDIA, ACADEMIA . . . .hit ’em again, harder, for as long as it takes to get the leftist FEDs, Media, Academia off our backs and to end the forced busing and forced leftist-liberal politically-correct, central-planning, anti-family, anti-religious programs being foisted upon We the People . . . .shake the FED-MEDIA-ACADEMIA’s shackles off the American People . . .de-ball, de-fang and dethrone this new leftist MAFIA running and ruining America . . .

  6. Hello Matt, I also read the Globe Article and not once did I see that diverse organization “Metco” mentioned. I wonder why that is? Nowadays when one mentions “Diversity “ I think to myself , White Males” watch out. That’s a great picture of the Suburban Protesters acting out at their local Bus Stop.

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