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Project Concern: A School Busing Experiment That Changed Lives

A voluntary busing program was pitched in 1966 as a two-year experiment for the underprivileged elementary school children of Hartford, CT. Suburbanites fought against it. Yet Project Concern survived and continued to expand.

It was replaced in 1998 by what's now called Open Choice as part of the Sheff vs. O'Neill court settlement. Nearly 50 years after voluntary busing began, 2,000 city kids attend 28 suburban school districts through Open Choice.

In 1985, a study was released on children who entered Project Concern from 1966 to 1970, compared with those who stayed in Hartford. High school completion was 33 percent higher for the bused students. Project Concern graduates were 50 percent more likely to get through two years of college than their peers who stayed in Hartford. Project Concern alumni also were more likely to have white-collar jobs and live in integrated neighborhoods.

Project Concern student Reggie McBee is not wistful about what he lost by going to school surrounded by whites.

“I would be in a different economic class, social class, had I stayed in Hartford schools,” he said.

Read the full story.

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