Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bus Service Controversy in the Deep South

I've got a busy day today, so I'd like to repost an article. It strongly pains me, on one level, to further publicize this story. Hoover, Alabama, is my hometown. Others who did not grow up there do not recognize the vast strides made since Civil Rights. The city public school system where I grew up had a well-deserved reputation for its focus on academics. I began in Kindergarten and attended until my senior year in high school. As is true throughout the South, this focus on student achievement was balanced alongside a strongly stressed importance upon athletics.

The background of this story is fairly straightforward. The school system claimed it needed to completely eliminate bus service to save money and announced the rationale for its decision. Immediately, their judgment was challenged and debated. Low-income students, mostly black and Hispanic kids, rely most heavily upon busing. The system is fighting against trends unlikely to change. A formally majority white school district has, like the racial makeup of this country, become much more Latino and African-American. Fully one-third of students enrolled are minorities. This is why this decision by the school system comes across as particularly suspect and discriminatory.

This story has a thousand other verses. Before African-American kids were excluded, Irish kids were. The reason for the proliferation of Catholic school is because Irish kids were denied access to the same schools as their Caucasian brethren. In this situation, the school board, city council, and mayor believe that minority students are behavior problems, pulling down test scores, and jeopardizing the property value of homeowners. They do not wish to assimilate. They want to return to the way it used to be, but in the most cynical manner possible.

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - Hoover parents fighting to keep public school buses today joined forces with the NAACP and other groups to call on the U.S. Department of Justice and state schools superintendent to intervene in the Hoover school bus issue.

The parents also said they plan to protest the Super 6 state high school football championships at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa next month if something is not done to stop the elimination of public school buses in Hoover.

"We feel very, very strongly this is a race and class issue," said Catrena Norris Carter, a Hoover mother with children at three Hoover schools. Many low-income families, especially single-parent families, cannot afford to pay to have their children ride buses, Carter said.

Hoover school officials know this and saw the elimination of buses as a way to rid the city of lower-income students, some of whom have moved into Hoover from struggling school districts in search of a better education, the school bus advocates said.

They've seen struggling students from other school districts as having a negative effect on the Hoover school district's test scores and therefore perhaps a negative effect on property values, school bus advocate Trisha Crain has said.

Instead of wanting to help those students overcome their challenges, Hoover school officials chose to run them out of the city, Crain said.

The full article is here.

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