School Busing

School busing, also known as mandatory busing or court-ordered busing, is a policy that was implemented in the United States in the 1970s as a means of achieving racial integration in public schools. The policy required students to be bused to schools outside of their local neighborhoods or school districts in order to balance the racial composition of schools.

The origins of school busing can be traced back to the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which ruled that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Despite this ruling, many schools remained racially segregated in the decades that followed, and efforts to integrate schools were often met with resistance from white families who did not want their children to attend school with students of other races.

Black students in Woodville, Mississippi, board a school bus for their first day at a formerly white school.

In the 1970s, the federal government began to enforce desegregation through a series of court rulings that required school districts to implement busing programs. The idea behind busing was to promote diversity in schools by transporting students from predominantly black or Latino neighborhoods to predominantly white schools, and vice versa.

Busing was a highly controversial policy, and it sparked protests and resistance from many white families who believed that it would harm the quality of education their children received. Some argued that busing was an invasion of their privacy and an infringement on their freedom of choice, while others claimed that it would lead to increased crime and violence in schools.

Accompanied by motorcycle-mounted police, school buses carrying African American students arrive at formerly all-white South Boston High School on September 12, 1974. In 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of busing as a mechanism to end racial segregation because black children were still attending segregated schools. White children had been riding school buses for decades, but the idea of using the same mechanism to desegregate public schools triggered violent protests.

Despite these objections, busing was implemented in many school districts across the country, and it had a significant impact on the racial composition of schools. In some cases, it successfully integrated schools and promoted diversity, but in other cases, it failed to achieve these goals and was met with continued resistance.

Black children were bused to schools in the Boston area in 1966 through Operation Exodus, a program organized and funded by the community.

Today, school busing is less common as a means of achieving desegregation, and other policies and programs have been implemented in their place. These include magnet schools, which offer specialized programs and curricula to attract students of different backgrounds, and open enrollment policies, which allow students to choose which schools they want to attend regardless of their zip code.

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