THE NAACP is not only opposing some whites in asking to reopen the 1972 Prince George's County school desegregation case. It is also taking on a great number of black parents who are on record as opposing busing because of the changing racial makeup of the county. The black parents say they don't see the point of busing a black child from one predominantly black school to another predominantly black school. But this is often the case in Prince George's under the 1972 desegregation order. That order dealt with a county that was 12 percent black. It was meant to keep that small minority from being concentrated for the purpose of denying equal educational opportunities. Today's parents in Prince George's are dealing with a county that is approximately 40 percent black and a school system that is 50 percent black.
Despite these changes in the racial composition of Prince George's, the NAACP finds it offensive that half of the county schools have more than one-half black students and that a few have almost a three- fourths black enrollment. Under the guidelines of the 1972 federal court desegregation order, the county's schools were to bus students or do whatever else was necessary to keep each county school from having more than one-half black students. The schools were also to have no less than 10 percent blacks. Those goals were largely achieved in the first few years following the court order, so that in 1975 the case was closed. The court was of the opinion that the county had complied with the points of its order.
Now the NAACP is of the opinion that the school board is using the county's changing racial patterns to disguise a return to racial segregation. The NAACP recently asked the school board to take steps voluntarily to integrate every classroom in the county so that no one group of students could be labeled black or white.
That is excessive. The sight of mostly black classrooms in Prince George's County today is not, on its face, evidence of discrimination. And the percentage of blacks in a school there is of less burning importance--unless the blacks in that school are getting second-class facilities, supplies and teachers. The county school board, for its part, may not need to fear court orders, but it must reaffirm its own commitment to go the extra mile for the children in the county who, because they are smarter, slower or poorer than average, need added help. That is the legitimate concern underlying the NAACP's anxiety. But the NAACP is addressing the problem in the wrong way. The point here is that the NAACP in its preoccupation with certain numbers and not others (such as the changing black enrollment and black population in the county) is not focusing on the current realities of schools but on realities that are 10 years out of date.