Reading Thomas Fleming’s article (“Here Come the Judge,” February) on the federal takeover of schools in Rockford, Illinois, I was reminded of what the French have long said: “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”
I lived in Lake County, Indiana, for the first 30 years of my life. The largest city in Lake County is Gary, and when I was growing up in the area in the I940’s and 50’s it was widely known that Gary had the largest black population per capita of any city in the world outside of Africa. Gary is now considered the most segregated city in the United States. So, what’s new? Gary was the most segregated city in the United States 40 years ago. Its population has slipped from 180,000 to around 120,000. It seems that the only rats that haven’t jumped ship are the ones that can’t get to the rail.
I moved to Stockton, California, in the late 60’s. In 1976 a Mexican judge issued an order requiring forced bussing in the Stockton Unified School District (SUSD). At the time of the order, the racial mix of the SUSD was 60 percent white students. When bussing was finally ended in 1993, the white student population of SUSD had slipped to 20 percent. It finally dawned on the judge that there was nothing to be gained in bussing Hmong, Laotian, and Vietnamese students across town to interact with Mexican and black students, since the majority had become the minority and the minorities were now majorities. Now that the experiment is over, Stockton, which was known as “Fat City” in the movie of the same name, is the Gary, Indiana, of the West Coast.