From 1960 to 1980, white families in Los Angeles with school-age children left the city just as the school district rolled out desegregation plans. According to historian Jack Schneider, “Los Angeles became a city for those without children, for those who could afford private schools and for those who could not afford to leave.”And the L.A. Times looks at the issues being debated.
This didn’t only happen in Los Angeles in the era of desegregation. Education theater of the kind unfolding right now is part of the same comforting narrative that has been told across the country in the decades since: We white suburbanites look on concerned and grateful our children aren’t in those schools. Public education is a public good, but definitions of the public have grown increasingly narrow. From California to Maine, calls for school district secession — “splintering off whiter, wealthier districts from larger, more diverse ones” — have mounted over the past two decades. As one Alabama mayor explained, seceding is the only way to keep “our tax dollars here with our children, rather than sharing them with children all over.”
This “not my fault, not my problem” mentality that underpins education reform has a legal basis. Detroit, like urban centers on the nation, struggled to desegregate its schools during the 1960s and ’70s. Local leaders there turned to surrounding suburban communities as partners to improve city schools. Suburbanites recoiled, posting “This Family Will Not Be Bused” signs in their front windows.
In the 1974 Milliken v. Bradley decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Detroit’s busing plan was unconstitutional because the outlying districts were not responsible for Detroit’s problems.
Since then, though, historians have documented exactly the opposite. Struggling big city public schools cannot be understood in isolation from their neighboring successful suburban school counterparts and the regional and state policies that create separate school systems. Education reform without consideration of federal policies, state funding equations, tax laws and zoning policies will remain ineffective.
Monday, January 14, 2019
LA Teachers go on strike today
Smart look at this in the Washington Post: