U of L history professor warns against dismantling JCPS student - WDRB 41 Louisville News

U of L history professor warns against dismantling JCPS student assignment plan

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Tracy K'Meyer, University of Louisville history professor. Tracy K'Meyer, University of Louisville history professor.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A bill which would force major changes to the JCPS student assignment plan passed the House education committee Thursday in Frankfort

So how did we get to the point where thousands of kids are being bused across Jefferson County every day?

Tracy K'Meyer, a University of Louisville professor wrote a book on desegregating JCPS called, "From Brown to Meredith: The Long Struggle in School Desegregation in Louisville".

In it, K'Meyer explains in the 1970s how the district was not integrated, largely due to white families moving to the suburbs. That forced the district to start a busing program in the 1975-76 school year.

It was met with a lot of opposition. 

A thousand people protested the fist day, and a few days later, 8,000-10,000 whites from Jefferson County demonstrated at school. It got so bad that then-Gov. Julian Carroll sent in the Kentucky National Guard, stationing them on every bus. 

"It was pretty vicious," K'Meyer told WDRB on Thursday. "That did lead to violence against the buses. That did lead to a riot, literally a riot in the street ... That was among the worst anti-busing violence in the country. We were with Boston in terms of being among the worst."

K'Meyer says despite the protests, Louisville's busing program continued.

There were a number of revisions through the years, and in 1991, when critics lobbied to disband the program, there was a huge push-back.

Parents on both sides, black and white, fought to keep it.

K'Meyer says dismantling the program could have crippling effects.

"We've seen in districts around the country that when districts go to neighborhood schools systems and re-segregate, the school systems become much more unequal and polarized," she said.

K'Meyer points to research that shows when you segregate schools by race or class, children, particularly poor and minority kids, suffer academically.

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