Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Possibly the Only Thing Worse Than a Democratic Debate on Reparations is a Democratic Debate on Busing

As Willie Brown, former San Francisco mayor and speaker of the California Assembly put it:
"California Sen. Kamala Harris got all the attention for playing prosecutor in chief, but her case against former Vice President Joe Biden boiled down in some ways to a ringing call for forced school busing. It won’t be too hard for Trump to knock that one out of the park in 2020."
And Harris has not confined her pronouncements on busing to her beatdown on Biden. The very next day she said in response to a question about the issue:
"I support busing. Listen, the schools of America are as segregated, if not more segregated, today than when I was in elementary school. We need to put every effort, including busing, into play to de-segregate the schools...[T]he federal government has a role and a responsibility to step up."
This is a problem. Busing was and is an incredibly divisive issue and wildly unpopular as policy. She may try to walk back this position later. She may say she misunderstood the question. But her view is now out there and the longer she sticks with it, the more of a problem it could be down the line.
To illustrate how much of a problem we're talking about here, consider this excerpt from a 1999 Gallup poll on school busing for integration, conducted one of the last times this was much of an issue:
"There remains, however, a contradiction in what Americans want in terms of school integration and increased opportunities for minority students -- and what they are actually willing to do in order to accomplish it. When asked what should be done to improve the quality of education for minority students, the vast majority of Americans oppose busing programs. Eighty-two percent of those polled say letting students go to their neighborhood schools would be better than achieving racial balance through busing. Support for this position is highest among whites (87%), while blacks are split on the question -- 48% would prefer to keep students in neighborhood schools, while 44% support busing of students to achieve racial balance. Even 72% of those in the 18-29 age group -- who generally agree that integration programs have helped -- tend to believe that letting students attend their neighborhood schools is better than busing."
Doesn't exactly sound like the path to victory over Donald J. Trump. For now though Harris' gambit has worked and she's spiking in the polls while Biden plummets--the most recent polls still have him ahead but only by a nose. Possibly these kind of attacks will work all the way the nomination.
But what then? That's what scares me.
School busing a staple of classroom integration programs since the 1960's is coming under increased criticism in the federal courts. Earlier this month, a U.S. District Court judge in Charlotte, North Carolina ordered an end to court-mandated busing programs in that city's schools starting next fall...

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