METCO, America's longest-running voluntary school desegregation program, has for 34 years bused black children from Boston's city neighborhoods to predominantly white suburban schools. In contrast to the infamous violence and rage of forced school busing within the city in the 1970s, METCO has quietly and calmly promoted school integration. How has this program affected the lives of its graduates? Would they choose to participate if they had it to do over again? Would they place their own children on the bus to suburbia?
Sixty-five METCO graduates vividly recall their own stories in this revealing book. Susan E. Eaton interviewed program participants who are now adults, asking them to assess the benefits and hardships of crossing racial and class lines on their way to school. Their answers poignantly show that this type of racial integration is not easy—they struggled to negotiate both black and white worlds, often feeling fully accepted in neither. Even so, nearly all the participants believe the long-term gains outweighed the costs and would choose a similar program for their own children—though not without conditions and apprehensions.
Even as courts and policymakers today are forcing the abandonment of desegregation, educators warn that students are better prepared in schools that reflect our national diversity. This book offers an accessible and moving account of a rare program that, despite serious challenges, provides a practical remedy for the persistent inequalities in American education.
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