Smith, Stephen Samuel
Boom for Whom? Education, Desegregation, and Development in Charlotte
A history of the use and demise of the mandatory busing plan in Charlotte, specifically the political and economic consequences of busing that facilitated the city's economic boom and enhancement of civic capacity
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
State University of New York Press
- Desegregation benefited Black children and also enhanced civic capacity.
- The civic capacity resulting from Charlotte's desegregation accomplishments did more to help Charlotte grow than to benefit African Americans or to strengthen public education.
- Data from Charlotte indicate that desegregation is associated with improved short-term academic outcomes from African American students. The same statement can be made about long-term outcomes.
- Busing and desegregation in Charlotte directly affected Charlotte's public housing program.
- All civic leaders, scholars, and journalists who reflect on desegregation in Charlotte have reflected on the link between local growth and school desegregation, although quantitative comparisons before and after Swann is impossible.
- Desegregation also lead to the switch to district representation on the Charlotte city council in 1977, leading to greater geographical equality in the dispersion of some resources, most notably medical emergency services.
- Switch to district representation also helped facilitate the expansion of Charlotte's airport, which resulted in large economic growth.
- No evidence that CMS's preoccupation with desegregation distracted attention from more fundamental issues such as improving academic achievement.
- Racial hegemony brought on by busing contributed to Charlotte's boom. Its effects on the Black/White economic gap were uneven and more ambiguous.
Academic Achievement, Desegregation, Diversity, Economics, Neighborhood
Method of Analysis:
Unit of Analysis:
- Use of regime theory to better understand the Charlotte experience, as well as to use this empirical material to develop and critique the theory itself.
- Urban regime theory sees local authorities, together with local entrepreneurs and investors, as shaping the coalitions of power ruling the city. Urban regime theory explains many varieties of city development, because it is sensitive to locality; to the local participants of phenomena and processes within cities and city agglomerations.
- Urban regime theory has four defining characteristics: (1) the social production model of power, (2) an emphasis on the political advantages that stem from control of investment capital, (3) attention to the operation and maintenance of political coalitions, and (4) the recognition that governance is not an issue-by-issue process.
- Civic capacity is defined as "the mobilization of varied stakeholders in support of a community-wide cause."
- Swann vs. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971) mandated that Charlotte bus students in order to desegregate schools.
- Federal rule of busing in Charlotte ended in 2000 and the school system began a "choice plan"
- Choice plan illustrated the reinstatement of segregation based on neighborhoods and received a negative response by the community, especially minorities.