The Boston School Integration Dispute: Social Change and Legal Maneuvers

The Boston School Integration Dispute: Social Change and Legal Maneuvers

The Boston School Integration Dispute: Social Change and Legal Maneuvers

The Boston School Integration Dispute: Social Change and Legal Maneuvers

Excerpt

This is a study of the Boston school integration dispute which began in 1963 and continues today. Conflicts over education in Boston have taken place in the context of rapid economic and social change, during which the ruling class has consolidated its position. Much to the profit of its entrenched business elite, Boston has, since World War II, shifted from a manufacturing and port city to a center of finance and service industries surrounded by high technology firms in suburban areas. In the late 1950s Boston's bankers and politicians also coordinated an urban renewal effort, beginning a physical transformation of the city that mirrored many of the postwar economic changes. Some old sections of the city, such as the West End, were completely leveled, while others, such as the South End and Charlestown, began the transition from run-down, low-income neighborhoods to increasingly expensive, chic residential areas.

Conflicts over education in Boston during the post-World War II period have reflected these rapid economic and social changes. Social planners, educational reformers, and real estate developers across the country perceived the public school system as playing a crucial role in solving urban problems and training the labor force to meet new business needs. However, attempts at reform were resisted by the mainly Irish middle- class school administration representative of a constituency employed in declining industries, and threatened by economic changes, urban renewal, and competition for scarce jobs from a growing black population.

In the early 1960s the NAACP raised the question of de facto segregation in the Boston public schools. Postwar migration from the South had enormously expanded the black population in Boston. Racial balance and segregation in the schools have been the main issues in Boston educational politics from the early 1960s to the present. To obtain their goals . . .

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