Quinn: School desegregation is hard without busing

July 19, 2019

The legacy of efforts to desegregate schools across America through busing became an unexpected flashpoint in the first round of the Democratic presidential debates.

Appearing on WHYY’s Radio Times, Penn GSE’s Rand Quinn, an expert on education policy and civic engagement, said the debate over school busing often tries to isolate a larger problem in American society.

“In many cities it’s very difficult to desegregate schools without busing. This is due to neighborhood segregation that many cities have. We often think about education as an institution in and of itself, but it’s hard think of desegregation without talking about housing policy, transit policy, and economic development,” Quinn said.

“[Desegregation is] a problem that can’t be addressed solely by school reform or education reform. It has to entail housing policy and other institutions at the local level to get at the root of it.”

Quinn’s forthcoming book Class Action presents the first comprehensive political history of San Francisco’s long struggle over school desegregation in the wake of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education. The book illuminates the evolving relationship between jurisprudence and community-based activism and brings a deeper understanding to the multiracial politics of urban education reform.

Listen to the full Radio Times episode here.