chapter  38
18 Pages

The Demographic Impact of School Desegregation Policy KARL E. TAEUBER and FRANKLIN D. WILSON

In a courtroom in Dallas in March 1976, a federal judge heard testimony from sociologists retained by each party in a remedy hearing on school desegrega­ tion.1 The expert witness for the school district presented an analysis showing that full desegregation with extensive busing would spur rapid and sustained white flight, quickly turning the public schools into a system serving primarily black and Mexican American children. The school district proposed a limited desegregation plan that it claimed would avoid excessive white flight and thus permit the maximum feasible amount of desegregation. The plaintiffs opposed a plan that preserved a substantial amount of uniracial schooling. Their expert took issue with the unpublished and incomplete analysis of the other expert, and presented unpublished and incomplete evidence that showed no consistent relation between desegregation and white flight. The judge reached his decision only a few days after the conclusion of hearings.2 He expressed dismay at his inability to resolve “the battle of the sociological experts.” But he accepted a limited plan that had as one of its perceived virtues the avoidance of massive white flight.