|American Renaissance magazine|
|Vol 6, No. 12||December 1995|
Catastrophe in Kansas City
The latest colossal failure in forced equality.
by Marian Evans
The effort to integrate the Kansas City public schools is one of the most costly, misguided, and ineffectual programs ever undertaken in America in the name of racial equality. This billion-dollar effort has been so utterly a failure that only good can come of it. Catastrophe as complete as this may shake even a liberal’s confidence. This may well be the high-water mark of the astonishing efforts whites have made to build a society in the name of an illusory equality.
Kansas City came to national attention ten years ago, when federal District Judge Russell Clark ordered the school district to build and staff the best, most expensive public schools in the country — perhaps in the world. They were to be so dazzlingly good that they would both lure white students out of their safe suburbs and raise black student achievement to the white level. Judge Clark was even willing to wield dictatorial power to get what he wanted, looting both the city and the state to fund the gold-plated schools that desegregation was thought to require.
Of course, the grand experiment failed. The wondrous schools were duly built but blacks learned no more in them than before. Whites stayed in the suburbs. And now a recent Supreme Court decision will probably cut off massive subsidies from the state, leaving the city with a hugely expensive system to run and no money. If Kansas City cannot dream up new ways to make whites pay for them, the dream schools will slide back into the ramshackled mediocrity from which Judge Clark thought he had lifted them.
Separate and Equal
The Kansas City, Missouri school district first opened in September 1867, with four schools for whites and one for blacks. The state constitution, like that of sixteen other states at the time, required segregation. A law passed the following year reaffirmed segregation, but required that black schools be equal to white.
Eventually the city was operating one high school and 14 elementary schools for blacks. Almost all of these schools were north of 27th Street, which was the traditional boundary of the Negro quarter. The city also made a serious effort to make the schools equal. Black teachers were paid the same salaries as white, and in most years the city spent approximately as much on black students as it did on whites. During the 1936-37 school year, for example, it cost $79.31 to educate each white elementary school pupil (about $825 in today’s money) and $69.10 to educate a black pupil. In 1940-41, however, the district spent $118.61 on each black high school student but somewhat less — $110.43 — on whites.
Even if there was rough equality in the operating budget, blacks were sometimes slighted in the capital budget. Their schools were often old and overcrowded. In 1949, parents of students at the all-black Bruce elementary school sued the city to replace rickety buildings. The Missouri Supreme Court upheld a lower-court denial of relief, arguing that although the Bruce school had no auditorium, gymnasium, or cafeteria, there were white schools in the state that were no better off. Moreover, since the curriculum at the Bruce school was equivalent to that of white schools, the black parents had no grounds for complaint.
The 1950s are now acknowledged to have been the salad days for Kansas City public schools. Sixty-nine thousand students (77 percent of them white) got what was, by today’s standards, a superb education in their segregated schools. The beginning of the end was, of course, 1954.
That year, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated schools were unconstitutional. Kansas City obediently prepared to desegregate. A color-blind plan was drawn up whereby students would simply attend the schools nearest them, whether they had been all-black or all-white.
Desegregation proceeded so smoothly in 1955 that the Kansas City Star did not even write a story about it. There were no disturbances because housing in the city was so segregated that only a handful of students were affected by integration. Moreover, almost 90 percent of the 921 white children who were to have attended formerly-black schools quietly moved out of their neighborhoods over the summer. When the school year began, only 117 of them were left to integrate the black schools. Their numbers dropped very quickly, and soon voluntary desegregation in Kansas City fit the pattern found all over the country: Almost the only people who crossed the color line were the children of ambitious black parents who wanted their children to attend white schools.
Whites began to drift towards the suburbs, and in 1970 the school district lost its white majority for the first time. Most schools, however, were still either overwhelmingly white or overwhelmingly black. By the mid-1970s, two-thirds of the students were black, and the district was showing all the stigmata of a black institution: crumbling buildings, poor discipline, declining test scores.
With so few white students to go around, meaningful integration was no longer possible, and by 1977, the school board was desperate. That year, it sued everyone in sight, in the hope of dragging 18 white, suburban school districts into a single, huge district. Forced busing would then flush precious white children out of the suburbs to rejuvenate Kansas City; and the suburbs would be taxed to pay for it.
Judge Russell Clark got the case but did not make important decisions until six years later. In 1984, he let the terrified suburbs off the hook. Following a 1974 U.S. Supreme Court decision, he argued that since the suburban districts were not responsible for residential segregation they could not be forced into a shotgun marriage with Kansas City.
It was the next year, 1985, that he hit upon the final solution to the segregation problem: urban schools so extraordinary that bigoted whites would voluntarily abandon their suburbs and private schools to flock to the city and sit next to blacks.
Judge Clark was realistic enough to realize that these schools would have to be spectacular, and spectacular they are. Of the more than $1.4 billion that has been spent in ten years on this “desegregation” plan, $418 million has gone for renovation and new construction, though not always wisely. After a $1 million patch-up of Central High School did not raise it to Judge Clark’s standards, the old school was torn down and the district sank $32 million into a gleaming new one.
Paseo High was another school that Judge Clark pronounced unsalvageable. Built from a type of limestone found nowhere else in the country, it was a cherished architectural landmark. The judge didn’t care. Protesters watched in tears as the school was dynamited on his orders.
The district now has 12 brand new schools — scores of houses had to be bulldozed to make way for some of them — with equipment to make a teacher’s head swim: planetariums, olympic-size swimming pools with underwater observation windows, dust-free diesel mechanics rooms, at least one mock-United Nations wired for simultaneous interpretation, radio and television studios capable of real broadcasting, video editing and animation labs, a moot court complete with jury room and judges chambers, a model Greek village to teach participatory democracy, elementary schools with one personal computer for every two children, etc. etc. These are the famed “magnet schools” that were supposed to attract white children like so many iron filings.
Another $900 million has gone for special staff to operate these wonders, and across-the-board raises for teachers and administrators. There are German- and French-language elementary schools which, of course, must be staffed with native speakers. The former coach of the Soviet Olympic fencing team has been hired — along with an interpreter — to teach Missouri rubes the finer points of sword play. It has been, in short, an unprecedented orgy of spending, overseen by school superintendent, Walter Marks, who has been pleased to see the salary for his position leap from $75,000 to $140,000.
Where did the $1.4 billion come from? Judge Clark raised it through two astonishing acts of judicial dictatorship. In 1987, he unilaterally raised Kansas City property taxes, first from 2.05 percent to four percent and eventually 4.96 percent — the first time in American history that a federal judge has levied taxes. This breath-taking usurpation of power simply ignored an amendment to the Missouri constitution that requires a two-thirds supermajority vote to raise property taxes past 3.25 percent. Judge Clark even tried to impose a surcharge on income taxes, but an appeals court struck this down as an invasion of the province of the state legislature.
When it became clear that Kansas City could be bled no further, Judge Clark decided to pillage the state — but on what grounds? In a flourish of legal non-reasoning, he decided that the state had contributed to segregation in Kansas City by permitting such things as restrictive covenants in deeds and by doing nothing to mix up the races. In penance for these past crimes, the state has been forced to pay more than $800 million to make the city’s schools fit for suburban white people. Needless to say, the state attorney general has repeatedly contested this exaction, but until June (see below) had lost every court battle.
The astonishing thing is that ever since 1955 there has been no school segregation in Kansas City. By the time of Judge Clark’s decisions, no one was even pretending that the city or the state or the school district was discriminating. By no sane reading of civil rights laws can Kansas City be found guilty. It had bad public schools and two-thirds of the students were black. In the never-never land of Judge Clark’s mind, this was unacceptable. It could only be the result of racism, and not just any old racism; this was Government-perpetrated racism in violation of the United States Constitution.
Because he was springing to the defense of that holy document, he appointed himself school district dictator, with the power to eliminate everything he considered a “vestige” of discrimination. In a crowning act of folly, he decreed that he would continue to run the schools until the test scores of black children were appreciably the same as those of whites. So long as blacks did not do as well as whites, the segregation of ages past was still doing its evil work.
What have been the results of this grand experiment? Instructional costs, not including costs of the building program, have more than doubled from $3,094 per pupil per year to $8,000 (during the same period, the state average rose from $2,470 to $3,760). Average classroom size has decreased from 38-47 to 22-27, and the number of school librarians has shot up from 13 to 56. Ten years ago the district had no “counselors” for elementary school students. Now it has 53 of them. All this luxury is lavished on only 36,350 students as opposed to a high of 69,000 in the 1950s. The overall operating budget has leapt in seven years from $142 million to $500 million while the number of students has stayed the same.
Whites have not behaved like iron filings. A comparison of the 1985-1986 school year — the first year of the “magnet” program — with that of 1992-93 shows that white attendance has continued to drop slightly, from 26.4 percent to 25.2 percent. Every year some 1,400 suburban students take the bus into town, but the white turnover rate is very high; most whites go back to suburbia after one or two years. The district has an annual “marketing and recruitment” budget of $1.8 million to lure other whites into town to take their places. Martin Luther King Middle School, which requires uniforms for all students and emphasizes the study of Latin grammar (!), has the best reputation among whites — and manages to attract only 55 students from the suburbs.
The small number of Kansas City whites who send their children to public schools have developed a recognizable pattern of patronizing only the lower grades. The racial performance gap is narrower at these ages and adolescence has not yet turned many blacks into predators and trouble-makers. When it is time to enter four or fifth grade, most white children go to the suburbs or to private school.
What effect has more than a billion dollars had on school performance? During the seven years of Judge Clark’s dictatorship, the dropout rate has climbed from 6.5 percent to 11.4 percent and the average daily senior high school attendance rate has dropped from 81.5 percent to 76.2 percent. The racial gap in achievement levels has remained unchanged, starting with a gap of several months in first grade and growing to two or three years by graduation. Test scores on standardized tests — essentially unchanged — are highest in the elementary grades, which have the most whites.
In short, nothing has turned out as Judge Clark hoped. It is probably true, as the district lamely argues, that even more whites would have fled the district were it not for fencing coaches and planetariums. The district is nevertheless more nonwhite than ever and the racial performance gap continues to yawn, just as it does in every school in every district in every city in every state.
In the white suburbs, in places like Raytown and Lee’s Summit, schools spend less than half the money Kansas City does on each student and get much better results. The Blue Springs district, for example, spends $3,403 per pupil compared to $8,000 per pupil in Kansas city. By the third grade, its students are already 70 to 80 points ahead of Kansas City on the Missouri standardized test (graded from 200 points to 595).
If anything, the school district faces its worst crisis ever. Superintendent Walter Marks, who happily spent hundreds of millions during his three years on the job, was fired in February. In 1994 he managed to find 14 reasons to leave town on school business. Worse still, during a paid leave of absence for back problems, he was filmed by a hidden Kansas City television crew carrying lumber into his new home in Florida. The crew also caught him bounding onto the airplane to come home, but by the time it got to Missouri he had to hobble off with a cane.
The search for a replacement has been hampered by a June decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that finally reins in Judge Clark, and may end the annual tribute from the state. In a 5-4 decision, in which the Clinton administration entered a motion in support of the status quo, the court invalidated most of Judge Clark’s efforts to fight “segregation.” Since the suburban school districts were not drawn along racial lines and cannot be blamed for “segregation” in Kansas City, Judge Clark did not have the authority to consider them as part of his solution. The actions he took to make the city schools more attractive to suburban students were therefore improper.
No one is going to make him tear down the luxury schools. However, he bypassed the collective bargaining procedure to grant raises to school employees in the hope of making the schools more attractive to suburban whites. The raises may be rolled back.
In a remarkable fit of common sense, the Supreme Court ruled that scores on standardized tests are a ridiculous measure of integration, and that the state of Missouri cannot be held financial hostage to poor black performance. After pouring over $800 million into this colossal blunder, the state may finally be off the hook.
Of course, Kansas City has become addicted to the $100 million or so every year that Judge Clark made the state hand over in operating expenses. The city is in a panic at the prospect of running the schools without state money. Once that money is gone, who is going to fix the video editing machine when it breaks down? Who is going to pay the security guards who keep the personal computers and machine shop tools from walking out the door? Who is even going to do simple maintenance on the huge, new, fancy school buildings?
To hazard a prediction, unless Kansas City can find fresh whites to bleed (see sidebar), in 10 years its public schools will be worse than ever. About the time the fencing coaches are laid off, the few remaining whites will lose their taste for the exotic and will clear out. The schools will become grimmer and more savage. As they do in Chicago, Newark, and the Bronx, exhausted teachers will maintain the barest facade of scholarship in what will come to resemble holding pens for young blacks and Hispanics. The only difference will be that in Kansas City, this familiar chaos will reign in what was once the most costly and ambitious school district in the country.
Of course, the Kansas City debacle has been a valuable experiment that has yielded fine data. Anyone but a dreamer could have predicted the results perfectly, but now they are clear enough to startle a liberal: (1) Not even the most opulent schools will tempt more than a handful of whites voluntarily to attend classes that are majority black, and (2) no amount of money can bridge the racial gap in academic performance.
Fueling the Folly
Thanks to Judge Clark’s tyrannical whimsies, the state of Missouri spends $350 million a year, or 6.8 percent of its entire budget, on “desegregation.” This is more than annual expenditures on prisons, courts, Highway Patrol, and state fire marshals — combined. Almost all the money goes to the majority-black school districts of Kansas City and St. Louis. Only twelve states spend any money at all on “desegregation” and none devotes as much of its budget to it as Missouri; Arkansas is next at 1.63 percent.
Because what used to be an education budget that was spread around the state now goes mostly to two cities, rural schools that serve whites are scanted. Every other school district has seen an average of $250,000 clipped from its annual budget. Parents have formed “booster clubs” to raise money for band instruments and athletic uniforms — while the big cities wallow in “desegregation” money. Needless to say, Judge Clark is one of the least popular men in the state and has used federal marshals as body guards.
When hundreds of millions of dollars drop from the sky, there are bound to be interesting runoffs. Lawyers have pocketed more than $22 million. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which always gets involved when money is to be taken from whites, has gotten $3.1 million. From 1990 to 1993, the school found ways to spend $5.6 million on employee and student travel; Southeast High recently splashed out $34,000 to send students on heritage-affirming trips to Mexico and West Africa.
Since Judge Clark couldn’t spend all his time checking up on the schools, he appointed a 13-man Desegregation Monitoring Committee with a staff of investigators. The committee, composed of a racially perfect mix of blacks, whites, and Hispanics, manages to spend half a million dollars a year. And since dream schools somehow do not produce dream students, $5.6 million has had to be spent on metal detectors and police protection.
Although mandatory busing is not part of the desegregation program, the “magnet” approach must offer ways for students to get to schools not in their neighborhoods. More than 90 percent of the students ride school buses at an annual cost of $37 million. The buses must be gold-plated, too, since the Atlanta area school district transports nearly twice as many children at a cost of $14 million a year.
Now that it looks as though the state will no longer have to hand over more than $120 million a year, the Kansas City school district is scheming for someone else’s money. There is talk of a surcharge on the state income tax or a special tax to be levied only on the region — anything to keep the monster in motion.
Kansas City increasingly covets the white suburbs. One idea would be to break up the city school district into pie-shaped wedges and attach them to the contiguous suburban districts. The old idea of a whacking great district for the entire metropolitan area has resurfaced.
The state legislature has the power to redraw school districts, but the suburbs would put up a terrific fight. They know that absorption by Kansas City would mean death. The city already spends twice as much money per student as they do — with miserable results — but wants money from the suburbs, too. “Integration” would mean busing unteachable blacks out of the education palaces in Kansas City into modest schools on the perimeter — which would then have to buy their own metal detectors. This is just the sort of horror that used to thrill liberals, but many suburbanites are now hardened refugees from urban integration who will fight for their children.
The most likely outcome is a return to the pre-Judge Clark days: bad, overwhelmingly non-white neighborhood schools in a district that will not have profited one iota from reckless, extravagant federal intervention.
What Non-Whites Think
Most blacks were delighted when the money started pouring in. The original, 1949 law suit had been about substandard facilities, and now blacks were to get the fanciest public schools in the country. The complaints have not stopped.
Today, the most legitimate is that Judge Clark’s integration goals put racial quotas on school attendance. At first, he ruled that no more than 60 percent of a magnet school’s students could be black. This goal was unreachable, and the figure has crept ever upwards, but in the meantime, since so few whites have come, blacks are turned away to keep their numbers within permitted limits.
Likewise, some black parents are simply tired of putting their children on buses, no matter how wonderful the destination. Local schools build local communities, and many blacks see the value of this.
Less legitimate is the complaint that it was all very well to build fancy buildings, but that the district should have put more effort into promoting parent participation — a factor that almost all analysts consider far more important than money. In its usual, dunderheaded way, the district was studying a plan to pay parents to attend PTA meetings when the Supreme Court spoiled the party.
Another complaint is that all the fancy programs that were supposed to reel in white students — Latin Grammar, French and German — are of no interest to nonwhites. Blacks and Hispanics have responded by giving explicitly ethnic themes to the schools where their numbers predominate. There is much irony here, because Judge Clark’s theory was that all schools should be equally attractive to all races. Inevitably, the pressure to make exceptions for nonwhites has been too great to resist.
The Chick Elementary School, for example, has kicked over the traces and gone all-black. The curriculum is larded with Swahili mumbo-jumbo: “kuumba” (creativity), “imaani” (faith), “harambee” (coming together). The children memorize poems praising Martin Luther King. There are moves to promote an Afro-centric curriculum throughout the district.
The 1,700 Hispanic students in the system are beginning to carve out empires, too. A heavily Hispanic school came up for a name change, and activists succeeded in naming it Primitivo Garcia Elementary School — despite official school board disapproval of an openly Hispanic identification. “Hey, this is in our community,” explained one Latino activist.
Race relations in the schools that are still “integrated” are poor, as they are everywhere. Black students routinely push whites around and declare areas off-limits to them. When one school tried to have a “racial harmony festival” on Martin Luther King’s birthday, black students showed their support for harmony by walking out. They were insulted that the occasion not be devoted exclusively to King.
As usual, a few clear-headed blacks have realized that a billion dollars changes nothing; the best schools are the ones that whites attend. The Hickman Mills district, just outside of town, still has a bare majority of white students, but not for long. During the 1980s, Hickman Mills lost one-third of its white school-age population while the number of nonwhite children increased 83 percent. For every black child who moved in, three white children moved out. Over and over, the process repeats itself.
The Children’s Crusade
School integration has been 30 years of wasted effort.
Forced Justice: School Desegregation and the Law, David Armor, Oxford University Press, 1995, 271 pp, $35.00.
reviewed by Thomas Jackson
Forced Justice, written by a sociologist and former member of the Los Angeles school board, is a relentlessly factual account of the effects of school integration. Although its tone is dry and understated, it would be difficult to find, between the covers of a single book, more hard data on the failure of desegregation. David Armor systematically blows to bits every one of the assumptions that underlay federal schools policy, exposes the flimsy legal reasoning on which it was based, and cites devastating data to show that it has failed to achieve a single one of its goals.
Social Theory Trumps Law
Like affirmative action, school desegregation mocks the principle of Constitutional law. The very same Constitution has been successively interpreted to permit segregated schools, permit them only under certain conditions, forbid them altogether, and now tolerate them under certain conditions. The truth, of course, is that the Constitution is mute on the subject of segregation, and that judges have simply read their own social theories into it. As Prof. Armor puts it, with excessive delicacy:
[S]ocial science theory and research have played important roles in the evolution of desegregation law, at various times providing an important intellectual basis for court decisions or legislative actions that might otherwise be lacking a clear legal foundation.
The main social science doctrine that has driven integration is something called the harm and benefit thesis. As Prof. Armor explains, Gunnar Myrdal was one of its first proponents. Segregation, he argued, was caused by white prejudice. It harmed blacks in innumerable ways that lowered their standards of behavior and level of achievement. Whites then pointed to the degraded state of blacks to justify their own prejudice. As Myrdal put it: “White prejudice and [low] Negro standards thus mutually ‘cause’ each other.”
This vicious cycle had to be reversed. Integration would open opportunities for blacks, which they would use to improve themselves. Whites would discover what fine fellows blacks are, and set aside their prejudices. Prejudice and black degradation would then disappear.
Research by black psychologist, Kenneth Clark, fit perfectly into this thinking. He had found that many black children who attended segregated schools preferred white dolls to black ones when given a choice. This, he argued, proved that segregation lowered the self-image of black children, and was an important cause of black failure.
Since white prejudice was the only real problem blacks faced, it was vital to eliminate it. In his influential 1953 book, The Nature of Prejudice, Gordon Allport explained how this could be done: “Prejudice . . . may be reduced by equal status contact between majority and minority groups in the pursuit of common goals. The effect is greatly enhanced if this contact is sanctioned by institutional supports . . .”
School integration was the obvious first step in solving the American dilemma. Children could be snatched from their parents before prejudice could ripen, and mixed with children of other races, all with the added benefit of Allport’s “equal status” and “institutional supports.” In the headiest days of the harm and benefit thesis, people were convinced that whites would benefit almost as much as blacks from an integrated atmosphere of racial harmony and academic achievement.
As Prof. Armor points out, in Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court explicitly endorsed the harm and benefit thesis. Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal” and generate “a feeling of inferiority [in blacks] . . . that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.”
Although nearly all sociologists believed this in 1954, it was pure, unproven, intellectual faddism. In fact, there were already reasons to suspect it was untrue. Kenneth Clark’s famous doll studies, which the justices cited in their decision, were presented in a deliberately deceptive way. By 1954, Clark had already discovered that Massachusetts blacks attending integrated schools chose a white doll over a black doll more often than did southern blacks attending segregated schools. He refrained from telling the Supreme Court about this because if his doll studies showed anything at all, it was that segregation was good for blacks.
Needless to say, Clark’s dishonesty is rarely pointed out, and the illusions he helped promote have remained largely unshaken. Although the Supreme Court never revisited the harm and benefit thesis, Prof. Armor cites a typical lower court ruling of the 1970s that states, “racial integration provides positive educational benefits . . . In addition, racial segregation imposes a badge of inferiority on minority students; integration is necessary to remove that badge.” As Prof. Armor shows, this dogma — which was the real force behind school integration — pushed legal reasoning in increasingly fanciful directions.
Desegregation vs. Integration
The rot had set in with Brown itself. This ruling was generally thought to have prohibited only legally enforced, de jure segregation and not segregation that arose naturally from racial housing patterns. However, by alluding to the harm and benefit thesis, did it not suggest that de facto segregation might be just as bad? Was it therefore illegal? There was much here for integrationists to conjure with.
Most Southern school districts dismantled strict segregation but made no effort to bring the races together. A few black parents transferred their children to white schools but whites did not transfer to black schools. Districts outside the South that had never practiced de jure segregation assumed the ruling did not apply to them, even when schools mirrored the racial imbalance of segregated housing patterns.
The 1968 case of Green v. New Kent County was the first in which the Supreme Court moved beyond desegregation to require active integration. It involved a small Virginia district with only two schools, one for blacks and the other for whites. After Brown, the district offered students the option to attend either school. The usual transfers took place, and by 1968, one school was 82 percent white and the other was 100 percent black.
The court imposed a mandatory, race-conscious integration plan as a “remedy” for the deliberate segregation of the past. Exactly as in affirmative action, racial discrimination was to cure racial discrimination. Although the implications of the ruling were profound, the case failed to attract national attention because everyone assumed that it applied only to Southern school districts with a record of de jure segregation.
The 1971 Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg decision ominously introduced busing as a means to integrate schools forcibly, but this, too, was offered as a Southern solution to the Southern problem of legal segregation. Northern complacency was soon shattered by the 1973 decision, Keyes v. Denver, which was the first time a school district not in the South, which had never had a policy of discrimination, was ordered to integrate its schools. The legal “reasoning” was quite fantastic.
Denver’s schools simply reflected residential segregation — not school board policy — and residential self-segregation is not (yet) illegal. How had the Constitution been violated? The court concluded that unless the district had deliberately located schools and drawn attendance boundaries so as to encourage racial mixing, it had perpetuated segregation. A failure actively to promote integration was now just as culpable as deliberate, legal segregation, and Denver school children started riding buses, too. Pretty soon, to the shock and outrage of their parents, so did children all over the country. In Los Angeles, the average one-way ride for a bused child took 55 minutes.
Forced busing emptied America’s cities and public schools of whites. Zealots eventually discovered that integration meant busing black children ever-crazier distances — so that they could go to school with other black children.
In 1991, as Prof. Armor explains, the Supreme Court finally relented and ruled that school districts could not be held responsible for white flight or housing patterns. So long as they had made a “good faith” effort to eliminate the “vestiges” of segregation, they could be released from court scrutiny. In effect, school districts could move gingerly back towards neighborhood schools — which by then blacks wanted almost as much as whites — even if it meant resegregation.
What Harm? What Benefit?
After nearly 40 years of madness, the Supreme Court is therefore drifting back towards the original, merely mischievous thinking of Brown. In the meantime, as Prof. Armor explains, there have been a great many studies that test the harm and benefit thesis. The media ignore them because:
First, it appears that segregation did not stunt black self-esteem. Blacks generally show higher self-esteem than whites and, if anything, integration lowers it.
Second, careful comparisons by region showed that by the early 1960s black schools were not being slighted. Facilities, staff, and textbooks were largely equal, and the small differences to be found could favor blacks as often as whites.
Third, integration does not improve race relations, as the sociologists swore it would. The data are mixed but, if anything, contact between the races worsens relations. When there is improvement, it usually comes in the early years of integration. The longer the contact, the worse the relations. Interestingly, the proportions of the racial mix make a difference, with the greatest mutual antagonism arising when blacks are 20 to 40 percent of a school.
Fourth, although the early years of integration exposed black students to more whites, whites have fled public schools at such a rate that today, black students have scarcely any more white school mates than they did in 1968, when forced integration began in earnest.
Finally, integration has not improved black academic performance. The overall gap in reading between whites and blacks has narrowed, but there has been as much black progress in overwhelmingly black schools as in largely white schools. Something other than integration — Prof. Armor suspects that it is the rising social status of black parents — accounts for the improvement. By now, no one is claiming that integration improves white test scores, but for the most part it does not seem to lower them; these days, this is considered a victory for integration.
Prof. Armor concludes that “enhanced academic achievement [for either blacks or whites] is probably the last reason why any agency or individual should endorse desegregation policies.” Since he has so clearly demonstrated that integration has produced no benefits, why endorse desegregation at all?
Naturally, the true believers insist that the country just hasn’t tried hard enough. In a major brief filed in 1991, the NAACP explained that we have gone about it all wrong, and that certain conditions must be met in order for school integration to produce harmony and achievement. Instruction must be cooperative rather than competitive. Parents must become involved in planning and monitoring desegregation. Grouping by ability must stop. There must be “substantial” numbers of nonwhite teachers and staff, and all must enthusiastically support integration. Multi-ethnic textbooks must be used. Of course, no one thought this at the time of Brown; integration was all that was necessary.
Inevitably, some school districts have followed the NAACP’s advice. They have gotten rid of “gifted” programs, grouping by ability, and sometimes even grades themselves, because they all highlight racial differences. When these efforts are found not to work, the NAACP will doubtless think of something else.
One of the strengths of Prof. Armor’s book is its overview of how desegregation works. Since there are no precise guidelines about what constitutes “integration” or how long court supervision should last, there is considerable regional variation. Some judges set precise figures for racial balance while others are more flexible. A whole host of techniques with names like contiguous rezoning, pairing/clustering, two-way busing, and satellite zoning have been devised to get blacks and whites into the same schools.
Some plans are mandatory — a child goes wherever he is ordered — and others are “voluntary” though, as Prof. Armor points out, this should often be called “controlled choice.” For example, children may be allowed to choose their schools, but only if the choice promotes integration. A black child may transfer from a majority-black to a majority-white school, but a white child may not.
Although school desegregation is no longer news, more than 200 large and medium-sized districts still have mandatory desegregation plans. Virtually all big-city school districts — which educate most of America’s nonwhite students — are now or have been under court orders. Some desegregation orders have gone on for nearly 20 years.
As Prof. Armor explains, in practical terms, a court-ordered plan means that the school board must get the approval of the plaintiff in the case — usually the NAACP or the Department of Justice — before it can do anything that might conceivably affect racial balance. This can be just about anything: closing old schools, opening new ones, drawing attendance districts, starting magnet programs, assigning teachers, or even modifying the curriculum. It is a terrific bother always to have to seek approval from bureaucrats or black activists, and when there are standoffs the parties have to go before a judge.
Some school districts have taken a liking to court orders. The wilder integrationists know that people oppose busing, so it is convenient to be able to blame a judge for it. Also, the federal government has set aside money for integration, and districts that are under court order can put on the nose bag first. It costs about $1,000 to desegregate a child for one year, which is a substantial part of the average $4,500 per year that schools spend on students.
How does a district get off the hook? It must go to court and show that it did what the judge ordered. There has been a huge debate over how long an actively integrationist plan must last, but as the Supreme Court said in 1991, once the “vestiges” of segregation have been eliminated to the extent “practicable” a district need no longer answer to the NAACP.
Prof. Armor notes that the NAACP has unearthed some interesting “vestiges:” racial differences in drop-out rates, grades, and disciplinary action. It argues that until these differences disappear schools have not complied with the law. Amazingly, some judges agree. One decided in 1993 to keep the Yonkers, New York, school district under court order until blacks and whites get essentially the same test scores; most courts stop short of this impossible requirement.
The legal lingo of desegregation tortures the language. A district that may be excused from court scrutiny is said to be “unitary,” that is, it no longer operates “dual,” segregated schools. These terms date back to the days of de jure segregation but today, a school board that cannot find enough black principals, or coax enough whites to come to school with blacks (or, in Yonkers, to narrow the gap in achievement) is, technically, operating “dual,” segregated school systems! It is violating the Constitution, and the courts are carrying out the wishes of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison by imposing a remedy.
Prof. Armor notes that one of the great underlying obstacles to school integration is residential segregation. Although they share seats on the bus and work side by side, blacks and whites do not live together; housing is scarcely any less segregated than it was 30 years ago. School integration has intensified residential segregation by driving whites to the suburbs.
Prof. Armor does not blame whites for segregation. His data show that the average white preference is for neighborhoods that are 10 to 20 percent nonwhite. Blacks, on the other hand don’t want to live in areas that are 80 to 90 percent white; they say they want neighborhoods that are only 50 percent white. This is virtually impossible, since whites leave neighborhoods like that. As Prof. Armor has found through computer simulation, “black preferences for fifty-fifty neighborhoods explain as much housing segregation as white preferences.”
Second only to attempts to force employers to hire people not of their own choosing, school integration has been the most ambitious racial scheme of this century. Far from solving the American dilemma, it has barely succeeded in getting a few more black and white children to attend school together.
Prof. Armor predicts that the courts will eventually give up trying to achieve the impossible, and that a great many urban schools will slip back into the de facto segregation that prevailed in the 1960s. The intervening 30 years have witnessed needless waste and disruption on a gigantic scale.
|IN THE NEWS|
O Tempora, O Mores!
Vive le Quebec Libre!
By a razor-thin margin, Quebec very nearly missed becoming an independent nation. Immigrants, most of whom are nonwhite, voted overwhelmingly in the October referendum to stay in Canada, and their votes were just enough to defeat the campaign for independence. Jacques Parizeau, Prime Minister of Quebec and leader of the independence movement, blamed “ethnics and money” for the defeat and resigned. At 3 a.m. on the morning after the referendum, Quebec’s Deputy Premier, Bernard Landry, told a Mexican who was working as a hotel night clerk that the loss was because of immigrants like her. He was promptly stripped of his portfolio for immigration and culture. Unionists are now saying that the independence movement was just a cover for racism.
On October 18th, Cecil McCool and Richard Will, both white, were driving through the black part of Chicago when they were stopped by two black police officers because of a broken tail light. The officers discovered that Mr. McCool was wanted for not paying child support, and arrested him. Mr. Will did not have his license with him and the police said he appeared to have been drinking, so they impounded his car. Mr. McCool says Mr. Will begged the police to give him a ride and not leave him in the unfamiliar, black neighborhood. The police left Mr. Will on the street and took Mr. McCool to the police station.
Later, in the station, Mr. McCool says that the officers were smirking, telling him, “Your buddy got burned.” Mr. Will certainly was burned — to death. He was set upon by blacks, who doused him with gasoline and set him on fire. The black officer who arrested Mr. Will says the killing was not racially motivated, that the blacks “were just doing something stupid.”
The Cook County authorities have promised an investigation, and the U.S. Justice Department is monitoring the case — not for civil rights violation but in case racial problems develop in the community. Do not expect this case to be national news. [Michelle Campbell & Phillip O’Connor, Friend says slain man had begged cops for ride, Chi Sun-Times, Oct. 28, 1995, p. 3.]
Straws in the Wind?
Scott McConnell, in an October 11 column in the New York Post, has gently broached the forbidden subject: racial separation. Noting that increased calls for “a national conversation on race” are likely only to recirculate the stale formulas of the past 20 years, he wonders whether Americans will not soon stop wringing their hands over the idea of “two nations” and simply accept it.
He points out that many distinguished whites have advocated racial separation: James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln and more recently, George Kennan. About the Nation of Islam’s current demand for territorial independence, he asks: “Is this . . . really much more outlandish than many of the measures (speech codes, compulsory busing of schoolchildren, restrictions on the use of standardized tests, just to begin the list) that America has employed in efforts to bring about an integrated society?”
Despite this blasphemy, the walls of the New York Post still stand.
Meanwhile, Paul Johnson, writing in the British magazine, the Spectator, has aired another novel idea. He notes that many Hong Kong Chinese, fearful of what life will be like after 1997 when the colony reverts to China, are eager to come to Britain. He also notes that the British have no stomach for more immigrants. He therefore proposes a swap: accept any Chinese who can manage to persuade an immigrant who is already in Britain to leave.
Mr. Johnson has no doubt about who should be encouraged to go:
We are kidding ourselves if we suppose that the black minority can ever be assimilated here. It has not happened even in the United States, where there is so much more space and so many more opportunities, and where so many other large minorities from all over the world have been and are being successfully absorbed. For an entire generation, the Americans created an elaborate legal structure of Affirmative Action, and spent hundreds of billions of dollars operating it, to give the blacks one last chance to fit in. It has clearly failed and is now being dismantled, and the black racial problem is once more the subject of fierce debate. There is no evidence at all that we can handle this problem any more successfully than the Americans, and our resources are much less. [Paul Johnson, Room for the Hong Kong Chinese if they pay for others to leave, The Spectator, Sept. 30, 1995, p. 28.]
Just how the West Indians and Africans would be persuaded to leave, Mr. Johnson does not say, nor would it be an unqualified gift to Britain if they were replaced with Chinese. However, even to have hit upon such an explicitly racial idea is remarkable.
The Georgia Supreme Court has, for the first time, removed a sitting state court judge “instanter.” In October, Dorothy Vaughn, one of only a few black women on the bench, was found to have shown “an intolerable degree of judicial incompetence, and a failure to comprehend and safeguard the very basics of our constitutional structure.” Miss Vaughn, who was elected to the state court in 1988 and had since won re-election, frivolously issued arrest warrants from the bench, and repeatedly failed to appear at trials that had been scheduled for her court. These appearances had then to be uncanceled because a substitute judge had already been appointed to take over her cases immediately.
After Miss Vaughn finally left her chambers, her files were found to be in a terrible mess. The court clerk’s office also discovered files on cases assigned to other judges — files that Miss Vaughn’s office had officially denied having. A docket supervisor noted that they were “files we’ve been trying to find for months.”
Naturally, some blacks detect racism. One state representative, Tyrone Brooks, calls her removal “a political lynching,” and vows to work for the removal of the Supreme Court justices who ruled — unanimously — to fire her. Miss Vaughn’s departure does not disqualify her from running for the same office in 1996. Mr. Brooks insists that she will run and will have “an awful lot of supporters.” [Trisha Renaud and Judy Baily, Judge Ousted, but Quiet Exit It Wasn’t, Fulton County Daily Report, Oct. 17, 1995, p. 1. Trisha Renaud, Vaughn Leaves a Mess Behind, Fulton County Daily Report, Oct. 19, 1995, p. 1.]
Forty-five percent of Miami’s population is now foreign-born. Thomas Boswell, a professor of Geography at the University of Miami, has completed a new study of different immigrant groups. He finds that among blacks there is a clear socio-economic stratification, with Jamaicans at the top, American blacks in the middle, and Haitians at the bottom. Jamaicans, some 35,000 of whom came to Miami during political turmoil in the 1970s, were among the country’s elite before they immigrated, and are one of the best educated groups in the city.
In the nation as a whole, Cubans are the most successful Hispanic group, but waves of recent Cuban immigrants have pulled down their average level of achievement in Miami. The early refugees from Castroism were mainly white and educated; current arrivals are generally darker and uneducated. Today, the most successful Hispanics in Miami are the 15,000 or so Peruvians who, like the Jamaicans, came to the United States during a period of political chaos at home.
Miami’s bottom-rung Hispanics are from Mexico and Central America. The poverty rate among Mexicans, Hondurans and Nicaraguans is more than 30 percent, approximately the same as for Haitians. [Voice of America broadcast,13-Oct-95 5:46 PM EDT, Jim Teeter reporting.]
Where There’s A Will . . .
Germany has worked out a deal to send Vietnamese back to Vietnam, which has agreed to take back the 40,000 now in Germany. Vietnam agreed to the bargain only after Germany offered $140 million in aid. Under the agreement, 2,500 Vietnamese are to go this year, and all are to be gone by the year 2000. Some came to East Germany as contract workers and some have come as “refugees” since reunification. Germany’s first priority is to expel criminals but eventually to send home all Vietnamese. The bounty paid to Vietnam to take back its own people is $3,500 per person. Germany also pays travel expenses. [AP-NY-10-18-95 0826EDT]
Libya is more unceremonious about kicking out undesirable aliens. It just rounded up 13,000 Sudanese and shipped them to the border in 113 trucks and 38 buses. Libya expects to have expelled 300,000 Sudanese by the end of the year. Since last summer, Libya has gotten tough with illegal aliens, and has expelled thousands of Egyptians and 30,000 Palestinians along with the Sudanese. [AP-NY-10-18-95 0826EDT]
At Public School 304 in the black part of Brooklyn, only 12 percent of third graders can read at their grade level or above. It is one of 16 New York City schools that have done so poorly that the central schools administration has decided to run them directly. The city, the state, and the federal government have been applying expensive uplift to these schools for years. Private foundations have lavished upon them every possible enrichment technique known to liberals. The halls are gleaming, and the facilities are up-to-date.
“I don’t think it’s money [that is the problem],” concedes Peter Goldmark, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, which has seen program after program vanish futilely into urban schools. What could be the problem? Richard P. Mills, New York State Education Commissioner, thinks he knows: “A structure for success is not in place.” [Maria Newman, At New York’s Bad Schools, Problem Wasn’t Just Money, NYT, 10/25/95, p. 1.]
One cannot help wondering what American schools would be like if the country were as keen on helping smart children as it is on helping dim ones.
Say It Loud . . .
In October, columnist Maggie Gallagher, recently wrote about her views on race: “I hate the idea of being white.” She went on to say, “I never think of myself as belonging to the ‘white race.’ Those who do, in my experience, are invariably second-raters, seeking solace for their own failures. I can think of few things more degrading than being proud to be white.” [Maggie Gallagher, The Rhetoric of Race, NY Post, 10/20/95, p. 25.]
So what future do you see for the United States?
It is impossible not to be pessimistic. It looks set to become like many of the Latin American countries where whites live in their own fortified housing estates while Hispanics hybridised with American Indians and blacks live in lawless shanty towns . . .
Is there nothing that can be done about the decline of the United States to Latin American status?
I think the only solution lies in the breakup of the United States. Blacks and Hispanics are concentrated in the Southwest, the Southeast and the East, but the Northwest and the far Northeast, Maine, Vermont and upstate New York have a large predominance of whites. I believe these predominantly white states should declare independence and secede from the Union. They would then enforce strict border controls and provide minimum welfare, which would be limited to citizens. If this were done, white civilisation would survive within this handful of states . . .
What are your views about immigration into Britain?
Britain has the same problem of a significant black minority with high fertility and the continuing immigration of illegals and bogus refugees. The numbers are much fewer than in the United States, but will grow in the years that lie ahead. There is the same problem in mainland Europe. The immigration of Third World peoples should be much more tightly controlled . . .
Right Now! can be reached at Box 3561, London E1 5LU, England.
Psychologists at the University of Southern California have found physiological processes that can predict criminal behavior. A study of juvenile delinquents and non-delinquents that tracked them from age 15 to age 29 found that the ones who become criminals have an average pulse rate nine beats per minute slower than those who do not become criminals. They also sweat at rates that are three times lower (by whatever standards sweating is measured). Adrian Raine, author of the report, says that these factors, combined with IQ and other psychosocial measures, can predict criminal behavior with 75 percent accuracy. [Roger Field, Calif. Shrinks think they can pick criminals in a heartbeat, NY Post, 11/5/95.]
Beating the Air
In Rockville, Maryland, a single copy of a promotional flyer for a restaurant was discovered to have been defaced with the words “blacks not welcomed.” This has prompted the Montgomery County police to announce a $2,000 reward for anyone who turns in the person who did it. The reward will be paid despite the fact that defacing the poster is not a crime, and nothing can be done to whoever did it. [Dan Beyers, Police seek hate crime information, Wash Post, 10/26/95, p. 1.] One would think the police have better things to do than hunt for people who have not committed crimes.
Reverse Robin Hood
For 22 years, Archie Hardwick ran the James E. Scott Community Association, Miami’s oldest inner-city service organization. Its clientele is mostly black. In October, he was convicted of stealing nearly $800,000, which he spent on luxury cars, jewelry, and even a nose job for one of his mistresses. He claims that he was targeted for investigation because he was a successful black man.
Conference Plans Being Finalized
The conference will be held over Memorial Day weekend (May 25-27, 1996) at Louisville’s finest downtown hotel, the Seelbach.Plans for the 1996 AR conference are proceeding smoothly. The theme will be “The American Racial Dilemma: Origins and Solutions.” So far, the following people have agreed to speak (tentative topics are in parentheses): Samuel Francis (the role of racial consciousness), Mayer Schiller (Jews, Gentiles and the racial dilemma), Michael Hart (practicalities of racial separation), Michael Levin (the role of government in racial solutions), Jared Taylor (what we are fighting for), Lawrence Auster, and Samuel Dickson. Other speakers will be announced as further plans are made.
Full registration information should be available in the next issue.
|LETTERS FROM READERS|
Sir — I generally agree with your perspective, but I thought there was an unnecessary touch of dogmatism in your essay about the verdict in the Simpson case. For the purposes of a separatist publication, it is not essential to know whether it was whites or blacks who were right in their opinions about Mr. Simpson’s guilt or innocence. The essential point is that opinions were so different. There was no need for you to show such fierce confidence in Mr. Simpson’s guilt. What is more, after a jury verdict of innocent, to refer to Mr. Simpson as “the man who killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman” is probably slander.
Once again, what matters is that although blacks and whites are citizens of the same country, they live in different worlds. It has become fashionable to point out that the top ten television programs watched by the two races are different. It is less common to point out the delusional fantasies common among blacksthat whites invented AIDS as a weapon of extermination, that whites “place” guns and drugs in the ghettos, that whites are constantly scheming to bring down successful black men — but these, too, point to fundamental differences in the ways in which the races think.
Despite the fact that blacks have been in the United States for hundreds of years, they are the only group that maintains a distinctive dialect (not just a regional accent), generation after generation. I have never seen an explanation for this. What does it mean?
I recently read that blacks spend three times as many minutes a day on the telephone as whites. They also consume vastly greater quantities of menthol cigarettes and high-alcohol beer (like Colt 45). Do these differences mean anything? No one knows. However, like the reactions to the Simpson trial, they are part of a constellation of differences, some great some small, that add up to incompatibility between the races.
Sheldon Thomas, Mobile, Ala.
Sir — I read Jared Taylor’s book, Paved With Good Intentions, when it was first published and I recently read Dinesh D’Souza’s book, The End of Racism. Even before reading Mr. Taylor’s commentary in the November issue, I was so struck by the similarities between the two books that I went back and reread most of Mr. Taylor’s book. The unattributed borrowings are obvious. This amounts to plagiarism and, combined with Mr. D’Souza’s astonishingly dishonest attempt to discredit the AR conference, is inexcusable.
Name Withheld, Boston, Mass.
Sir — I was disappointed but not surprised to learn that Samuel Francis has been fired. If it had been discovered that he was a pederast, or had lied about a criminal record, or had been driving drunk and ran over a pedestrian, he would probably still have his job. All these things arc forgivable, but to have unconventional views about race — no matter well defended is not. In a recent column, Joseph Sobran pointed out that there is greater diversity of opinion in openly liberal publications than in ostensibly conservative ones. The New Republic will often surprise you by the variety of views it publishes, but National Review and The Washington Times can be counted on only for the official, “safe” brand of conservatism. Why are conservatives such cowards?
Gustav Herbst, Culpepper, Va.
Sir — In your October review of Dwight Murphey’s pamphlet about lynching, I think you come dangerously close to endorsing vigilante justice. The outcome of the Simpson trial has, of course, created a sympathetic environment for this view, but it is a mistake to lose sight of the distinction between the consequences of multiracialism and the inherent flaws of an institution. The obstacle to justice in the Simpson case was race, not due process.
Mr. Jackson might then point to all the measures that have been taken in recent years to make it harder to convict the obviously guilty, and argue that these reflect an inherent flaw in due process. But the problem is not due process. To some degree, the coddling of criminals is part of liberalism without regard to race. However, in the United States, race has poisoned every institution, including the justice system. If it were not for liberal fretting over high black crime rates, we might not have all the current legal obstacles to convicting criminals.
The same view can be taken of the welfare system. The AR position seems to be that welfare is inherently bad. However, can one not argue that welfare, as instituted among whites, has been degraded by the presence of blacks? Three percent of whites arc on it and 18 percent of blacks — a huge difference. In New Hampshire, where there are few blacks to serve as bad examples, only one percent of whites are on welfare. One can certainly make a principled, libertarian case against government charily, but in an all-white society it might not be inherently defective.
You see my point. Multiracialism can cause institutional breakdown that do not necessarily say anything about the institutions themselves — so long as they arc operated by the people who built them.
Janet Hollander, Portsmouth, N.H.