A Busing Program’s Troubled Legacy

Louisville Courier-Journal investigation: Controversial plan to combat segregation favored white students, hurt Black students and communities
(EWA Radio Episode 263)

Can busing Black students to schools outside of their immediate neighborhoods make public education more equitable? How can reporters better cover the history of such desegregation efforts, and the impact on young people, families, and communities?

Reporters Olivia Krauth and Mandy McLaren share insights from their in-depth series into the longstanding busing program in Jefferson County, Kentucky, which was ordered by a court to desegregate its schools in 1975. sing extensive historical records, first-person interviews, and data analysis they showed how busing has shortchanged students.

Among the key findings: the busing program allowed white families to take advantage of loopholes and snag their first picks for higher-quality campuses, which were more likely to be in their immediate neighborhoods. In contrast, the predominantly Black and less affluent West End of Louisville saw many of its schools shuttered. Black students were bused to predominantly white schools where they were less likely to be placed in higher-level classes and were more likely to be disciplined.

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