Integration in the 1970s vs , My Own Experiences in the New Millennium

The situation of school integration in the 1970s vastly differs from my schooling experience in the early 2000s to 2013, but was much more similar to my parents’ schooling experience in the 1960s and early 1970s.

The integration attempt by the Los Angeles Unified School District in the 1970s was an attempt to make middle schools and high schools more diverse. The main reason for wanting to make schools more diverse, was to bridge the achievement gap.

The achievement gap is a gap in standardized testing between certain groups of students. In the case of the 1970s, there was an achievement gap between majority and minority students in standardized testing. The idea behind integration, was to give minority students the opportunity to attend schools with more funds, and thus better test scores. In addition, it would send white students to schools that had a majority of African-American and Latino students. This shift in schools was called integration.

Integration did well, but the district did not keep up with this, and soon schools were back to the way they were: segregated.

Bustop Collection 1967 at Cal State University, Northridge-Archive

The news clip above briefly talks about some controversies regarding desegregation, one being, if the integration actually helps to bridge the achievement gap.

“The basic point of the disagreement is that of weather integration actually improves the education of a student,” Bustop Collection Archive at Cal State University Northridge.

The integration effort was met with steady resistance from the state and parents of white children. In Divided we Fail, Segregation and Inequality in the Southland’s Schools by Gary Orfield, Genevieve Siegel­ Hawley and John Kucsera the authors say, “The civil rights revolution in the South never really arrived in Southern California, home to what is by far the nation’s largest population of Latinos, the second largest Asian population and the West’s largest population of African Americans.” The state was against integration even changing the state constitution to resist the movement.

This integration in the 1970s greatly differed from my middle school and high school experience. For middle school, I attended Valley View Middle School in the middle of Simi Valley. Simi Valley is a predominantly white suburban city with around 120,000 people. The school, to my recollection, was majority white, maybe 70 to 75 percent white, with a a Latino population of 15 percent, black and asian made up the rest. There was busing my 7th grade year, but this was not busing for integration, it was busing, getting students from their homes to the school, and back home. My 8th grade year this busing was no longer, as the district cut this program in order to save money.

My high school I attended was Simi Valley High School, on the east side of Simi Valley, walking distance to and from my neighborhood. The demographic was 61 percent white, 25 percent Latino, and 10 percent Asian, according to There was no busing to my knowledge at my high school, and especially no busing for purposes of integration. Although I never experienced busing, or a diverse middle or high school.

My parents had the exact opposite experience than I did. My father attended high school in the late 70s and my mother was in middle school at that time. My mother went to Marshall Junior High School in Long Beach, and at that time that school district was busing in students from east Long Beach to downtown Long Beach and from downtown to the east side. My mother tells stories about Snoop Dogg getting bused in from downtown Long Beach to her junior high school. She also attended Lakewood High School in Lakewood. She recalls not many buses going to downtown Long Beach, but she thinks there was around 22 buses coming from downtown Long Beach to Lakewood High School. Both at her junior high school, and high school, she said she felt like the busing was positive and created a more diverse environment.

All in all, busing in the 1970s was to integrate schools in order to bridge the achievement gap. There was great success, however this movement did not continue. This vastly differed from my education experience because there was no busing for integration at any of my schools.

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