POPULAR FOR TRANSFERS: Spring Hill School District.

The push for unlimited public school transfers is not about race, its advocates argue. The numbers suggest otherwise, at least as to impact.

I’m reminded of this by the front-page Arkansas Democrat-Gazette treatment accorded (as usual) the expected efforts by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and friends in the Walton-financed “school choice” lobby to overturn a federal judge’s decision that four South Arkansas school districts need not participate in the state’s school transfer law because of past desegregation lawsuits.

Hope, Camden Fairview, Lafayette County and Junction City won reprieve from Judge Susan Hickey on compliance with the state open transfer law, which has led to resegregation all over Arkansas.

The issues are well-established. The districts say the transfers would encourage white flight. Parents who want out say they want better education. One parent was quoted as saying her child would be safer in majority white Smackover-Norphlet than in majority black Camden Fairview, though she wasn’t quoted about specifics.

Advertisement

The D-G article enumerated past and proposed transfers, but somehow overlooked specifying the racial component. So here’s data from Whitney Moore, one of the lawyers for the school districts, to fill the gap on the last batch of transfers approved before the judge’s recent order:

* Hope — 16 of 21 transfers were white. 2 were white/Pacific islanders. 2 were black. 1 was Hispanic.

* Camden Fairview — Of 15 transfers, 14 were white. The other child was two or more races.

* Lafayette County — All 34 were white.

* Junction City — All 5 were white.

In all, then, at least 71 of 75 were white. All moved to districts with greater white percentages. 25 from Lafayette and Hope went to Spring Hill, which has only 5 black students among more than 600 students.

Advertisement

Only a handful of other Arkansas districts are still allowed to opt out of transfers on account of desegregation cases, including El Dorado, Hot Springs and North Pulaski County/Hacksonville. The school choice movement aims to unhitch residency from school district participation and, when that’s done, provide state tax money to take to private and privately operated so-called charter schools.

“Freedom of choice.” It was the watchword of 1960s segregationists. It’s now, with rare exceptions, the law and preference of Arkansas.