Kentucky Republicans Consider Bringing Back Segregated Schools

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Republicans in the Kentucky state legislature have advanced a bill that would end the successful desegregation of the Jefferson County School District, a district that encompasses the majority of the Louisville metropolitan area.

Kentucky’s House of Representatives, with a new GOP majority, passed the bill last month, 59 to 37, with every Democrat and one Republican opposed. It is now pending in the GOP-dominated Senate, which passed similar measures twice in recent years. A spokesman for Gov. Matt Bevin (R) did not respond to a question about whether he supports the bill.

State Rep. Kevin D. Bratcher (R), sponsor of the bill, said it aims to bring common sense to a system that is unfair to children who can’t get into schools around the corner or across the street from where they live.

The local school board, city officials, and local voters approve of the long-standing desegregation program that buses child across the city to more diverse schools so, if they proceeded, Republicans in the legislature will be legislating against the public's will. And for what purpose?

The bill's sponsor says the desegregation program "costs student time and taxpayer money that could be better spent," but spent on what? What could possibly be worth the consequences of canceling a busing program; a program that doesn't even cost a great deal of money in the grand scheme of things. Moreover, it's not as if the legislature isn't also considering budget cuts.

Approximately half of the city's low-income students are white according to the Washington Post and, under the GOP bill, half of the district's students would have to switch schools. That's clearly not a coincidence. That is, in fact, the goal.

The long-term consequences of re-segregating the city's schools could be severe, but State Rep. Kevin Bratcher assures us the measly amount of money saved by canceling the program could be "better spent."

Republicans took total control of the Kentucky state government in the 2016 election, reversing a century-long trend of divided government. They're poised to ruin the state I was born in.

Jefferson County and the Louisville area backed Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by a margin of 54 to 40 percent, so you can't exactly say they voted for what's coming.

  • Christopher Foxx

    Jefferson County long ago replaced the forced busing of the 1970s with a voluntary approach to integration, offering arts- and science-themed magnet programs to draw students into different parts of town.

    The bill would effectively eliminate many of those programs by requiring the district to allow children to attend the school closest to their homes.

    I thought Republicans were all for magnet schools and letting parents send kids to schools of their choice.

    Hah. Kidding. That’s only for their own and other white kids. When those darkies get involved, it’s require the students to attend their local underfunded schools.

  • Christopher Foxx

    “But we have to look at what we’re giving up for desegregation,” [Kevin D. Bratcher (R), sponsor of the bill] said. It’s harder for children in faraway schools to participate in extracurricular activities, he said, and for their parents to make it to PTA meetings and teacher conferences. What’s more, he said, busing costs student time and taxpayer money that could be better spent.

    So, a couple of questions for Bratcher:
    1) Are there extracurricular activities available for those children at their local schools? And if so, are they on a par with those provided at the schools they’re currently attending? If not, then this “the students can’t participate in chess club” excuse is pure bullshit.
    2) What data do you have that shows parents will attend more PTA meetings and conferences at their local schools than they do now? And would it be more cost effective to hold those meetings at times and places where parents could attend more easily than to dismantle an entire system? If cost is such a great concern to you, then the costs should be clearly understood otherwise this “concern for the parents” excuse is pure bullshit.
    3) Where, exactly, could the money be better spent than on ensuring the best possible education for kids and thereby reducing the burden they will put on the system in later life? What, specifically, is a better investment? If you can’t explain exactly what else the money should go for instead, then this “budget” excuse is pure bullshit.

    I’m absolutely positive Bratcher doesn’t want to hear and doesn’t have answers for ANY of those questions. Bratcher is pure bullshit.

  • Christopher Foxx

    Approximately half of the city’s low-income students are white according to the Washington Post and, under the GOP bill, half of the district’s students would have to switch schools. That’s clearly not a coincidence. That is, in fact, the goal.

    I’m a little confused. Are those two halves the same halves? I expected that it would be the black kids no longer being bused into the better “white” schools. Is it the white kids who would no longer be bused?

    • JMAshby

      The result of the policy change would be white kids and black and Latino kids going to the schools closest to them rather than desegregating them. It just so happens, as it does in most of the country (by design), that white kids typically live closer to better schools, even the poor whites. The city itself is very segregated (I’m from there).

  • Aynwrong

    Segregation is on the ballot. Segregation. In 2017. I am mildly surprised by this but I am by no means shocked and my jaw certainly didn’t drop. In fact, I’ve grown kind of numb to these kind of headlines. Which is disturbing. The GOP has so fully embraced this madness that it is no longer shocking in the least. I hope it’s just me. I hope that people who aren’t political junkies will hear of this and feel outrage and express that outrage and knock the GOP back, but I don’t have that kind of faith anymore.

    It’s 2017 for fuck’s sake! Isn’t it?

    • Georgie

      I know, this is getting out of hand, hopefully ACLU is gearing up for a fight. I’m starting to think the ONLY thing we have to reasonably to govern/human rights will end up being the Courts.

      • Christopher Foxx

        hopefully ACLU is gearing up for a fight

        Oh, no doubt on that score. The ACLU there all along and has been gearing up for full GOP insanity for a while.

        You can help by clicking here.

        • Georgie

          Thank you!

    • Scopedog

      It’s…it’s just been an avalanche of shit. The GOP is embracing racism, misogyny, homophobia, and destroying the Constitution and the media shrugs and goes, “Well, both sides!”

      Meanwhile, some folks like H.A. Goodman are pushing this:


    • Yes, and that’s the problem in their view. Heaven help us.