Many of us are familiar with the court-mandated bussing programs created in an effort to achieve school desegregation in the 1960s and 1970s. Far fewer of us realize there were also voluntary transfer programs that were crafted in out-of-court settlements in the decades that followed. For example, as part of the Canford Program, wealthy districts like those in Arbor Town accept between 6-60 students from nearby South Bay City, where resources are more scarce. These children who win the lottery have access to all of the same teachers, facilities, and curricular materials as the students living in the surrounding neighborhoods. Still, their experiences are far from the same. Canford students ride the bus each morning. Their trips are long and chaotic, and as a result, they often arrive late, hungry, or unsettled. These students must quickly transition into routines that fail to take this reality into account, and issues of equity quickly arise. Do the benefits of such a program exceed its costs? How might such a program be redesigned? To what extent is the bus (or recess) part of school anyway? In The Bus Kids: Children's Experiences with Voluntary Desegregation (Yale 2009), Ira Lit, recounts the experiences of small children participating in an interdistrict transfer program designed to allow students living in a low-income community to attend better-resourced schools in other nearby towns.
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