(Like I said on 8/13/13: “Hoover Alabama: Whatever the real story is…it’s not going to be good…” http://majmuse.net/?p=773 ; Well, the real story is now out thanks to a journalist, and it is not good…)
“Hoover bus shutdown will yank welcome mat from blacks and Hispanics”-John Archibald-8/27/13
“Dang it, Hoover. You might as well just come out and say it. It’s not about money. Not really. You want to ditch your school bus program because you want to ditch school bus kids. You think of bus service as a welcome mat to undesirables, like black people and Hispanic people. Worse yet, you believe providing door-to-door transportation makes your city too attractive for – shiver — poor people.
I know, I know. You can’t really come out and say that stuff. Not any more than you already said it, anyway. Hoover has been howling about the “apartment problem” since the early 2000s, way back in the old Superintendent Jack Farr days. And then this year, confronted with flagging performance at some schools, School Board President Paulette Pearson was clear as clear when she responded this way:
“There is no other system like ours that will bus you, that will get you to school and back,” she said. “I’m talking in Birmingham, Alabama. There is not another Over-the-Mountain school that will do what we do.”
And then there are those pesky apartment people. “We make it easy because we have some housing in our area that’s pretty affordable,” she said. “People can take advantage of that. And they move in.” Who is they? Do you really have to ask? Just say it, Hoover. Say it. The system for months has scrambled to figure out how to deal with falling test scores in some schools, with a general feeling that children of non-professionals and other ne’er-do-wells would drag their system into mediocrity. If they didn’t act fast, they’d cease to be a place to flee to and become a place to flee from. It all started to come together last year, after concerns about falling scores in places like Trace Crossings Elementary began to make homeowners (and sellers) start to question who was arriving at schools in buses, and what they looked like. Then this spring – at the end of school – the system began to act. It asked school bus drivers to list more than just the usual statistical summaries of bus riders. It asked for a list of names of children on the buses, which could easily be matched to demographic data. I’d like to be able to tell you the demographics. Heck, I’d like to be able to tell you something as simple as where the buses stop – which is something other systems post on their websites. But Hoover’s Information Office – they use that term in the most Orwellian way – says it has not had time in recent weeks to dig up things like bus route maps or bus rider profiles. Even as it works to shut down the bus system. Still, it was only weeks after the bus survey – in late May — that Trace Crossings parents brought their concerns to the school board. That’s when Pearson said her piece about … those people. “I think a lot of people see this (system) as a bit of a safe haven,” she said. “So they come straight to us.” They come straight to Hoover for the hope of a better education. They come straight to Hoover for the hope of a better life. They come straight to Hoover for opportunity to pay rent in that community, to pay taxes in that community, to live in that community, and as a result to attend schools in that community like anyone else, with all the rights and privileges that come with belonging. In doing that they somehow offended that community. Which says plenty. Hoover, without saying much of anything else, has screamed its position for the world to hear. The school system will no longer be a welcome mat. It will no longer be a safe haven for those looking for a better life. It can’t make students leave. But it can make it hard for them to stay. You don’t need to say anything else, Hoover. You already said it all.”–John Archibald-8/27/13