Black & White in Kentuckiana: Issues of race in schools, busing


Posted on November 24, 2009 at 6:29 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 24 at 10:27 PM

(WHAS11) - Schools and race: How important is diversity in schools to you?  Are we past the point where districts should force students to go to certain schools based on their ethnicity?

In this part of the WHAS11’s series Black and White in Kentuckiana, we're tackling issues of race in schools and busing.  These are issues that some people say Louisville still hasn't recovered from.

Before 1975 there was a very sparse showing of diversity in Louisville public schools.

Despite what happened with the Brown versus Board of Education decision in 1954, Louisville didn't fully integrate schools until 20 years later.

Change was met with resistance.

In 1975 when Louisville and Jefferson County Public Schools desegregated under a court order, many were not happy to say the least.

Decades after the forced racial merging, some say Louisville is still marked by that time.

“We had a mini civil war in 1975 around busing and Louisville’s image has never recovered from that and we haven't done much frankly as a community to try and rehabilitate,” says U of L professor Blaine Hudson.

Blaine lived through busing.

Jefferson County Public Schools still buses students to schools to achieve overall diversity based on economics, parents, education and geography.

“Its natural, now it’s like a natural thing; I have to ride that school bus in the morning,” says mother Velecia Hinnant.

She was bused throughout her high school years in Louisville.

She says racial diversity is still an important issue for her.

Housing trends are still very segregated in the city.  She says the district should keep a plan in place to ensure a balance to make sure kids are exposed to differences.

“We're not all the way there but we're here,” she says.

A group of mothers from Kennedy Elementary School have differing views on the issue of neighborhood schools versus busing.

“I live in Okolona.  I choose to send my kids down here because of the different races,” says one mother.

“I love diversity here.  I love the Montessori curriculum.  I just wish that I could take this school and drop it into the center of my neighborhood,” says another.

There still isn't a perfect solution to achieving diversity in schools where everyone is happy.

For some parents having a child who sees no racial difference is paramount.

Other parents think kids will feel the same even if they go to neighborhood schools.