The Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution just published “Bringing back busing: Do benefits outweigh cost?,” a must-read article on forced busing.  The author is David J. Armor, Professor Emeritus at George Mason University, who has written extensively on the subject.

The article includes a case study that compares student performance in Wake and Mecklenburg counties in 2004 and 2005.  At that time, Wake County assigned certain students based on socioeconomic status, while Charlotte-Mecklenburg had returned to a neighborhood schools assignment policy.  When adjusted for socioeconomic status, there was little difference between the performance of black and white students in the two districts.  Similarly, the black-white achievement gap was nearly identical.

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Dr. Armor concludes,

In my opinion, these advocates have not made a sufficient case that more desegregation (either racial or economic) is the best way to improve black or Hispanic achievement, and also that large-scale desegregation is a realistic goal and can be accomplished without the same controversy and resistance that occurred in the 1970s.  Indeed, the growth of predominantly minority group charter schools suggests that preference for an “own-group” school is not limited to middle class white parents.