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The Bus Kids

The Bus Kids: Children's Experiences with Voluntary Desegregation

Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    The Bus Kids
    Book Description:

    The Bus Kidsoffers a compelling and uniquely detailed examination of the experiences of kindergarten students in California participating in a voluntary school desegregation program. Ira Lit focuses on the day-to-day school life of a group of minority children bussed from their poor-performing home school district to an affluent neighboring district with high-performing schools. Through these kindergarteners' experiences, the book sensitively illuminates the processes of school transition, socialization, and adaptation, and addresses an array of important issues relating to American education.

    Lit acutely observes these "bus kids" and the quality of their social, emotional, cultural, and academic experiences. He presents a moving picture of the complexity of challenges, often unrecognized by teachers and parents, each young student confronted every day.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15327-9
    Subjects: Education, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. I Beginnings
    (pp. 1-15)

    In 1986, parties in a California school desegregation and racial discrimination lawsuit reached a settlement ending nearly ten years of rancor and litigation. The principal outcome of this agreement was the creation of a unique, voluntary, interdistrict transfer and desegregation program, later referred to as the Canford Program after one of the plain-tiffs in the original lawsuit. In practice, the Canford Program provides opportunities for families of minority students from a racially segregated, under-resourced, and poor-performing school district to apply for a transfer to one of several surrounding elementary school districts, which are generally better resourced and better performing and...

  5. II The Canford Program
    (pp. 16-23)

    Before moving into an exploration of the experience of students participating in the Canford Program, we shall first delve, at least briefly, into the history and background of this unusual educational experiment. What were the circumstances that led to this particular struggle for school integration and educational equality? What conditions and forces prevailed in the creation of such a unique, multidistrict resolution to these complex problems? What follows is a brief historical account addressing those questions.¹

    The 1954 Supreme Court decision inBrown v. Board of Educationis typically referred to as the watershed moment in the struggle for school...

  6. III The Bus Kids
    (pp. 24-43)

    I arrive at the bus yard at 6:20 a.m. It’s early and I am tired. The day is cold, gray, and dreary. A light mist hovers over the vast asphalt parking lot, which is surrounded by a tall chain-link fence. Inside the gate are a few portable buildings and about two dozen traditional yellow school buses, several of which have their engines running. Diesel fumes infuse the air. My visual, auditory, and olfactory senses all provide strong confirming evidence that I have found the right place.

    After checking in with the lead dispatcher, I exchange pleasantries with my bus driver,...

  7. IV Friends
    (pp. 44-81)

    Particularly in the early years, engaging in social interactions and developing and maintaining friendships are arguably two of the primary objectives of schooling, at least from the point of view of the youngsters in the setting.¹ While many school authorities (from federal and state policy makers to local school boards, administrators, and teachers) focus their attention chiefly on the fundamentals of literacy and numeracy, test scores, and national competitiveness, children spend much of their time focused on their peer relationships and social interactions. Even through a cursory experience in a primary school classroom, one can see the strong emphasis, especially...

  8. V The Obstacle Course of Schooling
    (pp. 82-100)

    I have been waiting at the bus stop at Shady Grove Elementary for about twenty minutes with several Canford students. The South Bay City bus is late again, so the Canford students are the last ones remaining to be picked up from school. The children are more active and louder than they typically are during the regular school day, even on the playground. My attention focuses on Holly, whom I hear singing. Her song sounds a bit like a jump rope rhyme, though not one that I recognize. I ask her about it. Jerome, a second grader in the Canford...

  9. VI Leopards and Chameleons
    (pp. 101-124)

    InDoing School(2001) Denise Pope describes how academically successful adolescents navigate the educational system by sorting out the routines and procedures that will help them survive in a competitive system rather than by focusing on the purported academic and intellectual pursuits of the institution. In a similar way, the work of the Canford students to navigate the multiple venues and transitions they encounter each day can be seen as a form of “doing school.” In many ways, the most successful students are the ones who sort out the particular routines, procedures, and expectations of different settings and who can...

  10. VII The Grown-Ups
    (pp. 125-147)

    While the focus of this work is on the students in the Canford Program, the adults in their lives certainly play a significant role in the story. The perceptions and decision making of the parents who choose to enroll their children in the Canford Program, the attitudes of the administrators who help to execute the program, and the perspectives and practices of the classroom teachers all have an influence on the students’ experiences.

    The most significant decision-making adults in the lives of the Canford students are likely their parents. They are the ones who make the initial consequential decision to...

  11. VIII Teaching Styles
    (pp. 148-166)

    The Arbor Town teachers display a range of teaching styles, from a progressive, child-centered, developmental approach to a more traditional, teacher-centered, academically oriented approach. Most teachers employ a variety of methods. Here I describe a typical day in the classrooms of two teachers whose practices generally reflect the two extremes of this continuum, thus setting in relief the features of teaching style that appear to be most relevant to the Canford students’ school experiences.

    Upon entering Theresa’s classroom, one gets a clear sense of order and tidiness. Everything seems to be in its place. Spruce labels have been printed, laminated,...

  12. IX The Road Ahead
    (pp. 167-178)

    At least on the surface, the Canford Program resonates with promise and opportunity. A group of motivated parents makes an active choice to take advantage of what appears to be a better educational opportunity for their children by transferring them out of an impoverished and poor-performing school district and into a neighboring district that is well resourced and high achieving. These parents have high hopes and a high regard for the American ideal of greater opportunity and prosperity through educational attainment. I do not believe that the experiences of the Canford students diminish those aspirations, but I do hope that...

  13. Appendix: Notes on Method
    (pp. 179-190)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 191-198)
  15. References
    (pp. 199-206)
  16. Index
    (pp. 207-211)