Instead of court-ordered busing
From recent Senate testimony by the Justice Department's assistant attorney general, civil rights division.Skip to next paragraph
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Stated succinctly, we have concluded that involuntary busing has largely failed in two major respects: (1) it has failed to elicit public support and (2) it has failed to advance the overriding goal of equal education opportunity. Adherence to an experiment that has not withstood the test of experience obviously makes little sense.
Accordingly, the department will henceforth, on a finding by a court of de jure racial segregation, seek a desegregation remedy that emphasizes the following three components, rather than court-ordered busing:
* Removal of all state-enforced racial barriers to open access to public schools;
* Insurance that all students - white, black, Hispanic, or of any other ethnic origin - are provided equal opportunities to obtain an education of comparable quality;
* Eradication to the fullest extent practicable of the remaining vestiges of the prior dual systems.
In developing the specific remedial techniques to accomplish this three-part objective, we recognize that no single desegregation technique provides an answer. Nor does any particular combination of techniques offer the perfect remedial formula for all cases.
But some desegregation approaches that seem to hold promise for success include: voluntary student transfer programs; magnet schools; enhanced curriculum requirements; faculty incentives; in-service training programs for teachers and administrators; school closings in systems with excess capacity and new construction in systems that are overcrowded; and modest adjustments to attendance zones. The overarching principle guiding the selection of any or all of these remedial techniques - or indeed resorting to others that may be developed - is equal education opportunity.
There is another dimension to the administration's current school desegregation policy that deserves mention. Apart from the issue of unconstitutional pupil assignments, experience has taught that identifiably black schools sometimes receive inferior educational attention. Whatever the ultimate racial composition in the classroom, the constitutional guaranty of equal education opportunity prohibits school officials from intentionally depriving any student, on the basis of race, color, or ethnic origin, of an equal opportunity to receive an education comparable in quality to that being received by other students in the school district.
Deliberately providing a lower level of educational services to identifiably black schools is as invidious as deliberate racial segregation. Evidence of such conduct by state officials might include disparities in the tangible components of education, such as the level and breadth of academic and extracurricular programs...
The evidence currently available to the Department of Justice indicates that school closings and teacher transfers may in some instances assist effectively in eliminating the vestiges of racially discriminatory dual school systems.
The department's mission continues to be the prompt and complete eradication of de jure segregation. While the relief we seek may differ in certain respects from the remedies relied upon by our predecessors, the Department of Justice will not retreat from its statutory and constitutional obligation to vindicate the cherished constitutional guaranty of equal education opportunity.