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Does Busing Really Work?


By Joyce Heard

David J. Armor, associate professor of Sociology, made public this week his new study on the effects of busing in five northern school systems. Already the study has provoked controversy.

Based primarily on Armor's evaluation of Boston's voluntary METCO busing program, the study concludes that busing programs have had little effect on academic achievement by blacks, have not increased black students' educational or occupational ambition, have not increased blacks' self esteem and have encouraged separatist ideologies.

Armor says that his study implies that there should be some reconsideration of forced busing programs. Lawyers seeking to stop implementation of a metropolitan school desegregation plan in Detroit flew to Cambridge Thursday to take testimony from Armor for their case.

Armor's paper has drawn criticism from other members of the Social Relations Department both for its conclusions and Armor's methodology.

Thomas F. Pettigrew, professor of Scoiology, pointed to the high dropout rate of subjects interviewed in the study: 60 per cent in the control group and 20 per cent in the METCO group.

Boston black leaders also expressed disappointment with Armor's results, especially the fact that Armor's study includes only high school students and has no data from children who have started out schooling in integrated elementary schools.

Armor was not reappointed by the department of Sociology. He will take a position as a visiting professor at U.C.L.A. for the coming year.

Armor's decision to publish came after he knew he would not be staying at Harvard next year. Even without Armor we are likely to hear more about his study and its conclusion.

Other Harvard sociologists including Thomas F. Pettigrew, professor of Social Psychology, are at work on an article using some of the same data that Armor did which will reach different conclusions.

In an election year, Armor's confessed support of integration aside, politicians are likely to make much of Armor's paper to support anti-busing and pro-segregation stands.

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