Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jones, Mayor Part on Busing

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jones, Mayor Part on Busing

Article excerpt

WHEN VIRVUS JONES was growing up in the late 1950s, he attended Hempstead School, a black school in northwest St. Louis.

When Hempstead became overcrowded, Jones was bused to Gratiot School, a white school in south St. Louis.

He found things much different at Gratiot. The key difference was that while young Virvus and the other black students were attending a white grade school, they rarely saw the white students.

Gratiot had separate classrooms, separate recesses and separate lunches for the black students.

"We weren't even allowed to know our schoolmates," Jones said.

The policy went on for years. "And when the black parents began to complain, instead of trying to remedy the situation by integrating the classes, the lunches and the recesses, the St. Louis School Board built new schools in north St. Louis, specifically to house those kids who were bused to the South Side."

Against this backdrop, Jones, now the city's comptroller, comes down firmly against the idea of ending busing solely to desegregate schools.

The idea was raised by Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. earlier this week. Bosley said he would support efforts to end busing for school desegregation.

Since the mayor's election in April, Bosley and Jones have agreed on most major issues. But in an interview this week, Jones made it clear that they parted company on this issue.

"I still support the desegregation program," Jones said. "It's not a perfect program by any means, but this isn't a perfect world."

Jones said that in making any decision, it was important to consider what public schools were like before school desegregation.

"We have to look at the damage that was done and the inequities that were incurred and see if the remedies have taken care of those," Jones said. "And I don't think you can wipe away the problems of 200 years of overt segregation in only 20 years."

Jones added that the state and suburban school districts were just as responsible for the inequities in the school system because they supported segregationist policies.

"The state and other school districts actually paid transportation costs for black children to enter the St. …

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