Academic journal article Texas Review of Law & Politics

The Disastrous Fraud of Lino A. Graglia 1

Academic journal article Texas Review of Law & Politics

The Disastrous Fraud of Lino A. Graglia 1

Article excerpt

This paean's title is in honor of Professor Graglia's fond predilection for strewing the words "fraud" and "disaster" throughout the titles of his decades-long body of scholarship.2 Indeed, his landmark book is itself titled, Disaster by Decree,3 as it concerns the so-called disastrous folly of busing. Perhaps best known for his scholarly campaign against this policy, Professor Graglia in his book succinctly defined busing as "the compulsory transportation of school children out of their neighborhoods to increase school racial mixing or 'balance.'"4 After having defined the issue, Professor Graglia, in his meek and mild mannered way, timidly proffered the observation that this policy, "may well have a potential for social disruption and dissolution unequaled by the Vietnam war at its height."5 Professor Graglia was being a bit light hearted and jocund, however, having missed out in experiencing busing personally due to certain immutable characteristics such as age. Thus, his praise, no matter how faint, was necessarily at best merely second-hand. And so I pause a moment to introduce a more personal element to this hagiography. Please indulge me as I recall my own blessed experience of busing which might add some color to the otherwise dour picture painted by Professor Graglia.

Although I lived outside of Austin, Texas, near the county line, our home was within the confines of the Austin Independent School District. AISD began busing students of color in 1971. After vociferous complaints that such students should not be the only ones to personally taste the pleasures of such a progressive policy, beginning in 1979 AISD graciously extended its many benefits to all students, depending, of course, on whether they needed to be "balanced." This happy state of nature continued until 1986, thus covering my junior high and high school years, during which I was bussed, being a particularly "unbalanced" student.

My junior high years were frittered away at Porter Junior High School6 in South Austin and being bused to it would occupy no more than one-and-a-half to two hours of one's time per school day. We would typically wait at the bus stop about one hundred yards from my house next to the cattle guard. It was an unprotected area, so my father built a plywood hut which, although ineffectual at keeping the wind out, was sufficient to keep in any imprecations from its huddled occupants. Frequently, those of us waiting for the bus would need to be at the stop by 6:45 in the morning, well before the sun had deigned to give any signal of its eventual arrival. Given the irregularity of the bus driver,7 we might wait at the bus stop for some time, thus allowing the older riders to amuse themselves by dangling the younger ones head first over the metal bars of the cattle guard, sometimes producing a mellifluous melody from the literal head banging not unlike the dulcet tones of a vibraphone. Those older riders not so musically inclined might simply engage in certain sharp attentions that would momentarily relieve the younger ones from concerning themselves with the buffeting of the cold wind.

And it was not just the waiting for the bus in the cool of the morning that could add a certain edge to the bus riding experience. Porter was surrounded by fields of high weeds which would turn brown with the onset of winter. Some enterprising riders discerned that school might end early if the weeds somehow caught fire-a happy experiment (although not for them as they were easily apprehended by the bus drivers)8 that indeed brought forth the expected conclusion. I fondly remember looking out the second-floor classroom window and watching the progress of the flames as they gaily marched towards the single file of buses lined up perpendicular to the school. We were dismissed early so that we could run to the buses and take off as the fire nipped at the wheels. Such happy childhood memories.

High school was another matter. The school I attended, Travis High School, was much farther from home, necessitating riding the bus for two to three hours a day depending on traffic. …

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