Bus at a Stop Sign

We have constantly seen efforts to create a racially diverse environment for our students fail, but maybe it is time to take a deeper look as to why we can’t keep everyone together. The solution to helping students does not simply lie in throwing children on busses around town, but by first taking a look at the difference in values and culture they are consumed by.

Southern California is seen as being one of the most diverse places to live in the nation, and yet according to Divided We Fail, it has done very little to integrate its students since Los Angeles “changed the state constitution to block a desegregation plan.”

Article by Rick Orlav printed 1977 — from the Bustop collection at CSU Northridge

During the 1970s, Southern California attempted to push a desegregation program that would require the mandatory busing of students between different Los Angeles schools.

There was much debate, and citizens did much to oppose the busing system. Some parents even went to the lengths of getting their children out of public schools all together and applying to private schools. In an article published May 17th, 1977, Christopher Berrisford (the headmaster of Harvard School in Studio City), estimated that applications had increased 30 percent. The assistant adminstrator of Buckley School in Sherman Oaks stated “There’s been a definite increase this year,” and “We were receiving a 100 calls a day at first.”

I do not see the solution in forcing busing to integrate schools, but a changing of cultures and values within cultures.

I believe that we as humans have an attraction to things that resemble similarities with ourselves. I have heard many instances even in this class where people want to be around others that look like themselves. And it also goes deeper than skin color. Our different backgrounds also reflect in the differences in cultures and values, and therefore we want to be around those that listen to the same music, like the same food, and/or live the same kind of lifestyle we do. Throughout high school and even in my short time at CSUN, I have seen the same type of grouping amongst races. I was told you got in where you fit in. This is why I feel like forcing integration has failed, we choose to segregate ourselves.

The solution reveals itself in Divided We Fail, that “…being in a middle-class schools — where most of the students head to college, experienced and expert teachers offer many college credit AP courses, your friends are fluent native English speakers, and colleges and employers seek out their well-prepared students — actually makes a decisive difference in educational and life opportunities afforded to students.”

While trying to support their idea of integration and the busing system, it got me thinking about why these middle-class students were headed to college, and how it related to my experience.

My mother was 16 years old and my father was 24 when I was born, both were addicted to drugs and alcohol and could not take care of me, so at the age of 4 my grandmother became my legal guardian. She did not have very much money, but in asian culture school is very important. So with multiple jobs and a lot of discipline, she and my aunt got me through school and held the expectation that I would go to college. I faced a lot of judgement and bullying for being different in a “white” majority school, but I also knew there was more to me than what I look like, and I was there for a reason, to get an education. This makes me believe that success for students all starts with what they value. You can’t force families into situations they don’t want to be in, and it’s not as simple as moving children around town.