BUSING AND BACKLASH: White Against White in a California School District by Lillian B. Rubin

BUSING AND BACKLASH: White Against White in a California School District

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A sociologist takes a hard look at a community in convulsion over integration and busing and comes up with some very depressing conclusions. Rubin traces the struggle between liberals and conservatives from 1965 when the Richmond Unified School District (RUSD), across the Bay from San Francisco, was created to 1969 when the liberal school board, tail between its legs, was ousted by a backlash of angry working-class whites. While her own sympathies are openly with the prointegrationists, Rubin's analysis of their timorous, vacillating and dilatory tactics is harsh and unsparing. She blames a deeply ingrained elitism and mistrust of mass political participation for the integrationists' inability to organize their ranks, leaving the field wide open to the United School Parents who used the bugaboo of ""forced busing"" to channel a variety of blue-collar grievances against the privileged ""meritocracy"" on the hill. A close look at the specifics of the integration plan designed by the liberal school board shows considerable disingenuousness and hypocrisy: it was the working-class children of San Pablo, Sheldon and Pinole-Hercules who were to be brought into the already dilapidated black ghetto schools while the children from the more affluent suburbs were to get the benefit of the showpiece Martin Luther King school, the newest and most modern in the district. As the polarization intensified, the liberals reacted equivocally and defensively -- revealing their pro-found ambivalence and latent racism as well as arrogant insensitivity to the fears of their neighbors. Predictably, since the conservative takeover things have become worse: meaningless ""open enrollment"" has been substituted for genuine integration; sex education, ecology and other ""radical"" innovations have been eliminated from the classroom; a new ""repressive atmosphere"" prevails, and the deep internal antagonisms in the community have been exacerbated. With busing looming up as a key domestic issue in the November elections, this is an instructive case history of how one community botched it.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1972
Publisher: Univ. of California Press