When my older daughters were attending the Milton Bradley Elementary School in Springfield I spent two terms on the School Centered Decision Making Team which, in theory, acted like a board of directors of the school. At that time the Springfield schools were under the same desegregation order which saw me bused in 1974 from my neighborhood school to another 1.4 miles away. Back in 2000 the schools had implemented a “controlled choice” program wherein parents selected from three schools and every attempt was made to give parents their highest possible selection in such a way that the each school would fall into the range of distribution which was considered “integrated”.
The goal was for each school in the district to fall within a certain percentage of the district’s overall racial or ethnic make-up. At the time Springfield schools were somewhere around 20% White, 20% Black, 55% Hispanic. What I learned was that a Springfield school could be considered segregated if its population was 33% White, 33% Black, 33% Hispanic, but a suburban school, let’s say for example in Longmeadow, was considered “integrated” even if it had a population made up 100% of White students because its school population more closely reflected the overall population of the district.
Nothing could better illustrate the fact that city dwellers are held to a different standard than suburbanites.
My parents very well may have selected the house that they did because the neighborhood it was in was, at the time, as white a neighborhood as existed in the city. My father was a little bit racist. He moved the family from the Berkshires to Springfield because it gave him the chance to move up in the United States Postal Service and earn more money, not to seek diversity. He and my mother chose a house at the end of a dead end dirt road, with well water and a septic tank. It was wedged in between some undeveloped land owned by a nearby synagogue and un-developable wetland owned by the city. My parents had lived in that house for a decade and a half before I entered 4th grade and started being bused to Washington Street School. In retrospect there was an increase in diversity. Tiffany Street School had, as I remember, one black girl.
In my class at Washington Street there were two Puerto Ricans (who spent most of the day in a separate room!).
My dad wasn’t going to “integrated schools”, his life was as insular as ever, he liked his secluded dead end hide-away, and my mom was very close to the neighbors. We stayed. But a look at enrollment in city schools shows a population which was 90% White shrinking to well under 1/3 White in fewer than 20 years. My mom still lives in that house. Its value is probably 1/4 of the value of the suburban home they could have purchased for the same amount of money (or less) before 1974.
Staying was a stupid decision from a financial standpoint.
And where did these White people go who fled the cities in the 70’s and 80’s and who have stayed away ever since? The suburbs? The exurbs? The “as far away from any place where the state might tell me I have to send my kids to school with brown people”-urbs? And what has that done to our land use? What has that done to our energy usage?
In combination with the interstate highway system, the defunding of public transit, and red-lining, integration has created the most wasteful society that has ever existed and which sees us spewing more than our share of carbon detritus into the atmosphere destroying the environment and the climate at the same time it immiserates us because it forces us to spend years of our lives enmeshed in metal skins traversing miles of barren asphalt strewn landscapes in order to purchase a gallon of milk.
Isn’t it enough that people who live and work in walkable urban environments do less harm to the environment? Is it necessary to obligate us to involuntarily and disproportionately integrate with people not from our tribe if, within the diverse whole, we choose to group together in enclaves?
Certainly even someone of average intellect could see that having more people living in cities, even if those cities are somewhat broken up into enclaves, would lead to greater voluntary integration than exists when forced integration shifts the dominant group into enclaves located dozens of miles from minority groups.
Forced integration is a bad idea.