George Will's outrage {op-ed, April 26} over the Supreme Court's decision in the Kansas City, Mo., school desegregation case is the product of his failure to learn the history of segregation in Kansas City. Had Will read the extensive record before the district court concerning the disastrous effects of segregation on our schools, perhaps his outrage would have been turned into understanding of the ruling.

For a full generation after the 1954 decision on Brown v. Board of Education, the state of Missouri did nothing to reverse the segregation it had required by law. The state did nothing to desegregate Kansas City schools. Therefore, it took court intervention to force the state to act.

When the federal district court in Kansas City set about to remedy the segregation that had become a fundamental part of the community, it found that segregation had caused a system-wide reduction in student achievement. And the failure of a majority white electorate to provide adequate funding for the school district (as it became predominantly minority) had resulted in school buildings "literally rotting."

It is clear to me -- even if not to Will -- that the remedy for generations of segregation and educational deprivation of black children is not merely to admit them to these rotting schools on an equal basis as though segregation had never happened. The solution, recommended by the school board and accepted by the court, must be an educational one. The bulk of funding in the large lump-sum figures quoted by Will is for basic educational programs such as school libraries staffed with librarians, reasonable class sizes, full-day kindergarten, early childhood programs and for renovations and new school construction.

Will's scathing rejection of the goal of integration as "judicial fiats for 'racial balance' " ignores that enrollment in magnet schools is voluntary. Magnet schools are schools of choice -- a concept endorsed by the last two Republican administrations as a means to lead a voluntarily integrated enrollment into our schools. The court orders do provide for distinctive magnet school themes and curriculum. But Will distorts the facts to make our program sound absurd. The court orders do not provide for 15 microcomputers in every classroom, nor is every classroom air-conditioned. A 25-acre farm for teaching students about agribusiness may seem like a frill inside the Beltway, but in the Midwest it is a way to teach children about a business that provides employment for 2 million Americans.

The state, which resisted taking responsibility for segregation, forced the court to choose between abandoning any hope of a meaningful educational remedy and setting aside the state laws barring our district from raising a share of the funding. I have learned enough law in my years on the school board to know that a constitutional violator such as the state of Missouri cannot prevent its wrongs from being remedied by pointing to its own tax laws. We cannot walk away from our legacy of discrimination and segregation simply because it is cheaper than fixing it.

Although the elected school board in Kansas City was reluctant to urge tax increases, we have a responsibility to provide decent schools and adequate instruction that will permit all our children to succeed in a desegregated environment. And as one of nine elected board members, I assure you that the public will be heard as we set future tax rates under the procedure required by the Supreme Court. -- Julia Hill

The writer is president of the Kansas City, Mo., School Board.