Republicans 'trying to re-introduce racial segregation in schools'

'This bill would have very unfortunate consequences for low-income and minority children,' said Danyelle Solomon of the Centre for American Progress

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Republicans in Kentucky have been accused of trying to bring back racial segregation to schools, after a controversial bill on the regulation of education places passed in the state’s House of Representatives.

House Bill 151 would require school boards to give priority to students who live closest to schools.

Parents still could list any school they wanted as their top choice, but students who live nearby would have an advantage.

The bill was approved by a 59 to 37 House vote, but still needs the Kentucky Senate's approval before becoming law.

It is the latest legal challenge to desegregation bussing — the practice of transporting students to certain schools to redress previous racial segregation and to tackle the effects of residential demographics on educational performance. 

Bussing started in 1954 after a court ruling declared racial segregation in public educational facilities was unconstitutional.

“This bill would have very unfortunate consequences for low-income and minority children,” said Danyelle Solomon, the director of Progress 2050 – a project of the Centre for American Progress that specialises in racial equity.

She told The Daily Beast“We do our students a disservice if we think that housing patterns and schools aren’t linked together. If this bill were to pass there would actually be segregated schools.”

The bill has been staunchly defended by its sponsor – Republican member of the Kentucky house of Representatives Kevin Bratcher – who said it would simply help parents send their children to their family's “neighbourhood school” if they so chose.

“It will rebuild our communities," he wrote in an article for in the Courier Journal. “It will, after four lost decades, reconnect those two things that never should have been disconnected in the first place — neighbourhoods and their schools.”

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