Past Segregation and The Kern County Way

On June 29, 1978 a woman by the name of Maria Gutierrez, 23, was charged with providing fraudulent signatures for the ballot against busing to appear on the November ballot. At the time Ms. Gutierrez was “an employee of state Senate Alan Robbins’ Organization CHOICE.” Ms. Gutierrez was originally paid to collect 550,000 valid signatures for the anti-busing to appear on the November ballot. At the time of the investigation she claimed that she did not receive any money in return for the signatures. What the investigators found was that the signatures were all duplicates and fraudulent. In the end there was not enough signatures collected for the anti-busing to appear on the November ballot and Ms. Gutierrez ended up facing criminal charges. Unfortunately, segregation continued in our schools.

Busing Petition Article by Valley News Capital Bureau, in California State University Northridge.

Fast forward to now: 2016. It has been 28 years since the fraudulent signatures investigations. Even though anti-busing did not make it on the November ballot in 1978, in 2003 an investigator reporter by the name of Nikole Hannah Jones reported on the public school systems. Through her investigation, it became evident how once again white families were against busing African American students to top performing schools. This shows you that over time the segregation within individuals not only played a role in society but also played a role in our children’s schools system. During the investigation Jones did a recording of her ending results on the public schools that was called The Problem We All Live With. Within this recording a passage that had caught my attention was when she said “…that white parents frame the story by saying, that the school failed in the past because black children were forced in, that is what went wrong. Not the other part of the equation that whites families chose to leave.”

Whether individuals want to believe it or not, we live in a diverse society and within our society there are always individuals leaving the equation, especially when it comes to race. Think about it, a location of a school says a lot about the quality of student’s education. Even in the Civil Right Project called Divided We Fail: Segregation and Inequality in the Southland’s schools said that “Segregation in the state is directly related to educational and economic failures….” The lack of education that students receive has everything to do with segregation and location of the school itself.

I myself did not experience busing during the course of my primary education. A lot of that had to do with the fact that the district made it hard for individuals to attend a more privileged school. The Bakersfield school system is divided by district and where your house lands on the map of Kern County will determine where you attend your educational years. Over the past few years the schools systems have expanded more due to the building of new schools. My freshman year went from overcrowded populated students to my senior graduation with about 1,500 or so students.

I attended high school in the east side of Bakersfield, CA and even though Foothill is the only high school in all of Kern county to have the IB program (International Baccalaureate), the program was not easy to be accepted into. Foothill High had one teacher that had a Doctorate Degree, but later was fired for putting his hands on a student. We were also known to have first year teachers who would leave after their first year of teaching and go on to teach at a more prestigious high schools. We were not allowed to take our books home due to the lack of material for every student, and due to the number of textbooks never returning back to campus.

I may not have experienced busing but the district handled that for everyone by making it impossible for students to be bused. Segregation was obvious because our school’s location made it obvious that our current surrounding had mainly people of the Hispanic and African American background, which led to other stereotypes. In 1978 the anti-busing never made it to the November ballot but the segregation within the school systems didn’t stop there. I attended a High school that no one would have wanted to go to if they had a choice, but I also didn’t ask for the mediocre education the I was given from schools. My experience in high school was interesting because I learned more from attending high school that was so diverse than from attending a more creditable school.

Citation :

Divided WE fail: Segregation and Inequality in the Southland’s School’s. By Gary Orfield, Genevieve Siegel- Hawley and John Kucsera,. March 2011. The Civil Rights Project

Walker, David. “Bussing Foe accused of filing fraudulent petitions arraigned.” 26, 6, 1978