On Sunday last, Katherine Kersten turned her Gorgon's gaze on the unsuspecting citizens of Eden Prairie, using the school district and its students to try to make an ideological point, but winding up pointing out her own bigotry instead: trademarked Kersten, in other words.
Kersten offers the departure of the superintendent and defeat of three school board members in the last election as proof that school busing -- well, one kind of school busing -- is bad for children and does not work! The redrawing of school boundaries in Eden Prairie went into effect only this fall, but that doesn't stop -- or even slow -- Kersten from writing it off as a failure already.
Katie is right, in one sense; it was a political failure, but that doesn't mean it is an education failure.
People bus their kids to other schools for a myriad of reasons: a preferred school program in the arts, sports, language, or teaching method. This is true at all levels of K12 education: high school, middle school, and yes, elementary school. Katie's own kids spent a lot of time on the bus. But Kersten reports, without irony, that some Eden Prairie parents are sending their kids to charter or parochial schools (on a bus, no doubt) rather than put up with the tyranny of busing.
Parenthetically, there is a little Providence Academy bus that chugs by the house every day. Where is Providence Academy? Plymouth.
Of course, it's a particular kind of busing that Kersten finds objectionable: "racial busing." That's entirely different! You do need to ask yourself, though, why is "busing" bad only when "racial" is the adjective? The answer is obvious.
People like Professor Myron Orfield and former Federal Reserve economist Art Rolnick will tell you that minority kids need to be exposed to the majority culture long before they are thrown in with the white kids in middle school or high school, as they are in Eden Prairie. (The fact that most kids who come from inner city schools to suburban high schools under open enrollment perform more like the peers they left than their new ones make that pretty obvious.)
People more informed about the Eden Prairie school system than I am have said there was more to the departure of the superintendent than just the busing issue, but it seems clear that the school board, um, turnover was the result of it.
Kersten nevertheless trumpets this as a victory for common sense, rather than a victory for a rather more sinister force. Just as Eric Fromm suggests.