Page 2


teacher turnover, and the least adequate resources for instruction and learning.” The poorer the community, the poorer the schools. The school facilities in the poorer communities suffer in terms of the total acreage of school sites, the amount of acreage devoted to outdoor recreation, condition of facilities and resources, and the costs of construction, furnishings and design, the study concluded. Chase also reported that anglos consistently scored higher in reading achievement than did the minorities. In the second grade, for example, last year 71 percent of the white students scored at or above large city norms in reading while only 29 percent of the black students and only 35 percent of the brown students were at or above the large city norm. At 4 The Texas Observer THE TEXAS OBSERVER “A tradition of honesty, accuracy, fairness, and tireless investigation has enabled the Texas Observer to occupy a unique place in Texas journalism.” The Adversaries: Politics and The Press, Bill Rivers, ed. \(Beacon “The always impious Texas Observer . . . We recommend it.” I. F. Stone’s Bi-Weekly, May 31,1971 the Progressive and the Texas Observer, both of them knowledgeable, superbly written, and leavened by a wit of which conservatives seem incapable.” George Frazier, The Boston Globe, Dec. 15, 1973. “Oddly, the impact of some of its biggest stories comes on the rebound: They are picked up and commented on nationally before the state’s daily press recognizes them.” Lew Powell, Chicago Journalism Review, April, 1974 “One of the best publications in the country remains the Texas Observer.” Pete Hamill, The New York Post, Dec. 18, 1969 “The Observer is the conscience of the political community in Texas.” Andrew Kopkind, The New Republic, Nov. 20, 1965 “I think the Observer ranks with The Progressive as one of the two most useful papers in the United States.” John Kenneth Galbraith, Sep. 16, 1970 ‘The Observer keeps coming out with serious and thorough news of this critically important state which people inside and out can’t get elsewhere.” Nicholas von Hoffman, The Washington Post, Sep. 10, 1971 [ ] One Year $10.00 [ ] Two Years $18.00 [ ] Three Years $25.00 \(Non-Texas addresses exempt from 5% sales tax Name Street City & State Zip [ Check end.; [ Bill me 600 WEST 7 AUSTIN, TEXAS 78701 the time the study was made, Dallas was busing only 6,300 students, 97 percent of them black. NEEDLESS TO SAY, reaction to the Fifth Court ruling was extremely mixed. Rose Renfroe, a Dallas City Councilwoman and a zealous supporter of George Wallace, said that she fears that busing will cause a massive white flight from Dallas to surrounding suburbs that were not affected by the court decision. Roy Orr, the right-wing county commissioner, allowed as how forced busing is not the answer. John Stoner, a black community organizer, summed up what a lot of black leaders seemed to be thinking. He said the court order was a strong one, but “a lot of what happens now will depend on how the white community will react. If they resist, then we might have a situation like Boston which will delay the whole implementation. But if cool heads prevail, the plan should go through in time for school.” The next day the school board decided to appeal. In defending its decision, the board released a statement saying its action “is the result of a sincere interest in preserving the integrity of the neighborhood school concept for effective education of all students with minimum disruption of the educational process. . .” The board called for the community “to respond with dignity, honor, reason, understanding, and calm.” A call for everyone to be calm was the most affirmative action that many civic leaders and institutions could muster. A group of church leaders got together and issued a statement urging citizens to be calm and Christian. So did a group of businessmen. Editorials in The Dallas Times Herald and The Dallas Morning News both criticized busing and then went on to advise readers to take a calm, wait-and-see approach to the situation. “It is apparent,” the Times Herald opined, “more busing is going to be required in any new Dallas desegregation plan, even though the value of busing is being challenged, is unpopular, and may add to resegregation. If there are better ways to achieve school integration, Dallas and the entire nation are now being challenged to find them.” In an editorial entitled “Court’s Backward Step,” the Morning News applauded the school board’s decision to appeal but added, “Our own individual interests particularly those of our children and those of the community will not be served by letting emotionalism and demagoguery run wild. Our opinion of the latest ruling should not blind us to the danger of producing a nightmare similar to that afflicting Boston during the past year. Compulsory busing is bad. Turning classrooms and streets into brawling arenas because of it would be far worse.” Of the Dallas media, the Newsroom staff on public television station KERA did by far the best job of covering the desegregation order and of encouraging community dialogue on the issue. The day the order was handed down, Newsroom expanded its usual half-hour evening format to a full hour. The next evening Lee Clark and her staff went on live for four hours with members of the school board and the city council, representatives of the city’s Tri-Ethnic Committee, county commissioners, churchmen, a Brown Beret in a “Menudo Power” T-shirt, and a batch of lawyers. As they do on their nightly news show, the Newsroom people also took calls from viewers and Clark read aloud their comments and questions to people in the studio. The show was probably as close as a city of a million can get to a televised town hall free-for-all. If it could be criticized for anything, it would be that the majority of participants was probably more progressive than the city at large a point more than one disgruntled anti-busing caller made. But the mere fact that the City of Dallas will tolerate as free-wheeling and controversial a show as Newsroom provides a good indication that Dallas is changing a bit. To be sure, Dallas has made some progress in the past 20 years. This time around there were three minority members on the school board to vote against continuing opposition to federal desegregation orders. Dallas now has a black mayor pro tern, George Allen, a man who once was refused admittance to the University of Texas. Allen argues that “massive busing of school children is the only answer.” Meanwhile, the old Dallas fights back. As the Observer went to press, Rose Renfroe and her friends in the Citizens for Neighborhood Schools are busy organizing an anti-busing rally for Aug. 1 in Dallas. “It just breaks my heart to think that my four-year-old baby girl will have to ride a school bus across town,” Renfroe told a reporter. “I just don’t want to see it.” K.N.