A panel of educational experts says that white flight from public schools is because of racism (“How White Progressives Undermined School Integration,” The New York Times, Aug. 21). But that was not the case in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where I taught for 28 years.
In 1970, Judge Alfred Gitelson ruled that the Los Angeles Board of Education had engaged in de jure segregation in violation of the state and federal Constitutions, and ordered the board to come up with a desegregation plan for the mammoth district, the nation’s second largest.
The initial response by most parents was positive. But soon reports of campus disruptions and dumbed-down instruction surfaced, leading to even the most tolerant parents enrolling their children in religious and private schools. In 1979, Proposition 1, which ended all mandatory student reassignment and busing, passed by more than two-thirds.
None of the parents involved in the exodus were racist. On the contrary, they were progressive. They believed in integrating schools. But they were not willing to sacrifice the education of their own children on an ideological altar. I don’t blame them.
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