Busing in the 1970s to today

photo via Creative Commons

Los Angeles is one the most diverse cities in the U.S, and LAUSD being the largest public school system in the state of California and 2nd largest in the United States according to lausd.net, has done very little to help integrate schools. According to Divided We Fall: Segration and Inequality in the Southland’s Schools “(In) Los Angeles they changed the state constitution to block a desegregation plan.”

The school desegregration movement began by students protesting poor conditions and overcrowding at segregated schools. A major protest began and a case was made Brown vs. Board of Education. This case is what is believed that ended school segregation nationwide.

In the Brown v. Board of Education decision, the Supreme Court ruled for integration in schools.

School districts implemented mandatory busing plans to promote school desegregation. Minority students would be transported to largely and well-performing white schools and the white students would be transferred to minority schools.

Child wearing a T-Shirt with the sign, “Bus Me Not” from the Bustop Collection at the California State University, Northridge Library

Many parents didn’t want to send their children to minority neighborhoods schools which were completely out the way. Busing was voluntary but then became forced and that’s what angered many parents. Some parents even took their students out of public schools and sent them to private schools.

Although many students indicated their desire to be transported by bus from overcrowded schools to those with more room. “Forced Integration” was feared by Valley parents while others called it “fringe benefit”.

In an article from August 29,1968 Francisco Esquer, a grocery store owner of East Los Angeles said, “I want my son to know that richer experience. I want him to learn about other sections of the city — to know how all people live. I don’t want (him) to be confined to the corner grocery store.”

photo from the Bustop Collection at the California State University, Northridge library

Many didn’t even have an option, lottery ticket slips were given at Hughes Junior High School in Woodland Hills to determine which students would be bused to another school. Lists of those students would be then posted. “They’re treating out kids like a bunch of numbers and throwing them in a bucket,” said Anita M. Kahn, a Canoga Park resident with a son at Hughes, from an article in May 17, 1960

photo via Creative Commons

In my experience, being in the Humanities Magnet in Hamilton High School, the program offered bus transportation to those whose homeschool wasn’t Hamilton or lived outside the area.

According to echoices.lausd.net, district-paid transportation may be provided for secondary applicants if they reside outside a five-mile radius or outside the Magnet school/center attendance boundary, which ever is further.

Busing wasn’t mandatory or forced. It was a way back home to many, so they just took advantage of it and rode it back home. I never had the experience of taking the bus back home since my parents worked in the area so I always had a ride back home.

A good friend of mine took the school bus back home every now and then. Martha Cabrera, rode back right after school back to Mid-City.

  1. How many years did you take the bus?
    MC: “I took the school bus every 4 years but I also took public transportation once in a while.”
  2. What kind of students rode the school bus?
    MC: “Mostly minorities took the school bus.”
  3. Where would it drop you off? What was your home school?
    MC: “It would drop me off at Berendo Middle School. It was not very close to my house. I still had to take public transportation to get home from the bus stop. My home school was West Adams High School.”
  4. How would you describe a daily ride in the school bus?
    MC: “The bus would leave at 4:20 p.m so we would wait until that time if needed. The bus ride was pretty fun at times because I would spend more time with friends. I also sometimes took naps or did some reading/homework.”
  5. What did you mainly like or dislike about it?
    MC: “I just hated how long the ride was and I loved that I could nap”

The bus stop system has helped many students integrate into a better education. A little more work can be made to make the busing transportation better.