The big news lately in my neck of the woods is that they're shutting down about half of the inner-city public schools in Kansas City, Missouri. This is the latest act in a long-running tragical-comical-historical farce that's been going on since 1985, when a federal judge basically took over the school system in the name of "desegregation" and ordered the taxpayers of the State of Missouri to pay whatever it took to bring the overwhelmingly African-American student body of Kansas City's urban core up to par.
If you're at all interested in the whole sordid story, please click on my previous link.
But you're not at all interested - are you?
So let me give it to you straight:
(1) The Supreme Court outlawed explicit school segregation in 1954.
(2) In the wake of this decision, whites with children who didn't want them to go to school alongside large numbers of blacks began to flee inner-city Kansas City.
(3) In 1969, black students became a majority.
(4) After 1969, Kansas City taxpayers never again approved a tax increase to support the public schools.
(5) By 1984, the district was in crisis. Few white students remained, and money had run out.
(6) Federal judge Russell Clark, a Jimmy Carter appointee, in collusion with the district itself, declared it in violation of anti-segregation laws, and required the State of Missouri to give it pretty much whatever it wanted to attract, once more, some middle-class white students, whose presence, it was thought, would exercise an improving effect on their inner-city black school-mates.
(7) Lavish new facilities were built, and the best teachers money could buy were hired. An olympic-sized swimming pool with underwater observation deck, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capacity, a planetarium, a zoo, a nature-preserve, French-teachers from Belgium and Cameroon, physicists from Russia, Olympic fencing coaches - you name it. Per-pupil spending rose to the highest level in any major school district in America - about twice the average for Missouri's public schools and about four times the average for the local parochial schools. And this great gravy-train chugged away for more than a decade.
(8) End result? Very few white students got lured in, and hardly any of those who did stuck around for more than a year. Standardized test scores declined. Drop-out rates increased.
(9) In 1997, Judge Clark gave up in despair, and recused himself from the case.
(10) In 2010: please see above.
It was all, in short, a monumental bloody buggery cock-up of global proportions, darling!
And, just in case you're inclined to blame all this on those horrid white racist parents who fled the KCMO public schools in such droves, here's the sort of thing that was on their minds, according to a certain "Sharon," who's been there and done that:
"...used to sub in the KC School District, back in the day, so I was in a lot of the schools. When I say the disorder is indescribable, I mean you can't even describe it. And no one would believe you if you could.
"Once, many years ago, a friend who was a writer for the KC Star asked my friend who was then teaching at Paseo High, 'Is it true the kids have sex at school?'
"With a perfectly straight face, my friend replied, 'Not in my room. I don't allow it.'
"When I say some of the schools were in a state of riot, I mean the kids spent their days throwing books and furniture out the windows, setting fires, fighting, vandalizing the computers, walking on the piano keys, and shooting craps in the back of the room..."
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Well, what can I add - except that, based on my own (mercifully brief) experience teaching in the public schools, Sharon's report has the unmistakable ring of truth.
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It doesn't necessarily have to be like this. But when, oh when, Lord, will the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped?