Susan Lassiter, chairwoman of Concerned Citizens for Successful Schools, took exception to our use of the word of “busing,” as in “busing to achieve socioeconomic diversity in Smithfield and Selma schools.”
In a column about Superintendent Ed Croom’s response to her group’s concerns, Mrs. Lassiter wrote: “It was very disappointing to see the worn-out buzzword ‘busing’ in the article, because this traditionally inflames the public and frightens parents. Some officials have used it in the past to rally uninformed citizens, and I hope that wasn’t the intent here.”
Mrs. Lassiter is right about this much: Smithfield-Selma schools are not diverse; instead, they’re filled mostly with poor children, many of them minorities. That’s partly because affluent parents routinely ask for and receive permission to transfer their children to other schools, but that’s an editorial for another day.
CCSS hopes to bring back socioeconomic diversity by redrawing school-attendance boundaries so that Smithfield-Selma schools have more affluent children and fewer poor ones.
But CCSS would apparently have parents believe that redrawing attendance boundaries is an innocuous exercise – a simple matter of moving a line so that, say, a Polenta Elementary School child attends West Smithfield Elementary or a Selma Elementary child attends Micro-Pine Level.
But moving an attendance boundary doesn’t move a child’s home. The child who lives closer to Polenta Elementary would suddenly and arbitrarily travel farther to West Smithfield. The child who lives closer to Selma Elementary would suddenly and arbitrarily travel farther to Micro-Pine Level.
And how would Mrs. Lassiter and CCSS propose to get those children to schools farther from their homes? Our guess is they would, uh, bus them. (Refusing to use the word “busing” doesn’t make busing any less real.)
We have made clear our opposition to the CCSS plan to make Smithfield-Selma schools appear better by redrawing attendance boundaries. A poor child who struggles in a Smithfield-Selma classroom will struggle too in a Cleveland community classroom.
As for inflaming the public and frightening parents, we’re not the ones proposing to bus children farther from their homes. CCSS is doing that.