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Statement About Pending Legislation on School Busing

August 24, 1972

IN CONNECTION with this visit to the Detroit area, I should call attention to a recent court decision which emphasizes the need for speedy Congressional action.

In March, I proposed to Congress two bills to stop excessive busing.

I proposed these bills because education, not transportation, is the name of the game. Busing forced by a court to achieve an arbitrary racial balance is wrong. It adds nothing whatever to the children's learning. An hour and a half a day on a bus will, if anything, impair the education process, whatever a child's race or color.

Shuffling our youngsters about in this way weakens the neighborhood school. I believe in the neighborhood school. It is important to the youngsters of a community and it strengthens the neighborhood as well. It is important to the child and it is important to the family.

My first proposal to the Congress is a moratorium on all new and additional busing of schoolchildren. That would stop any further busing now.

Second, I proposed that Congress set uniform national standards for school desegregation, in which busing would be a remedy of last resort. That bill also provided means to aid and improve poor quality schools.

Although the House of Representatives passed an equal educational opportunities act this month, which restricts busing, there has been no action in the Senate. Neither House has acted on the moratorium.

Earlier this summer the Congress included an amendment to another bill, the Higher Education Act, which was intended to stay the implementation of court-ordered busing until all court appeals had been exhausted. When I signed that bill, I expressed concern that different lower courts might construe that amendment in different ways, and I continued to urge immediate passage of the moratorium.

On Monday of this week we had the first example of the very thing I feared: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the amendment did not provide relief from busing in a California case.

Now school is about to open, and the Congress so far has failed to take the needed action. They must act promptly when they return into session. If children begin the new term under court-ordered busing plans, the present law apparently will be ineffective in terms of providing stays to parents who wish to appeal.

I am sure the citizens of Michigan join me in urging the Congress, and particularly the Senate, to give vigorous and diligent attention to this needed legislation at once.

Note: The statement was released at Utica, Mich.

Richard Nixon, Statement About Pending Legislation on School Busing Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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