To Fight The Good Fight The Battle

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To Fight The Good Fight- The Battle Over Control O Essay, Research Paper To Fight the Good Fight:” The Battle Over Control of the Pasadena City Schools, 1969-1979In January of 1970, Pasadena, California held the dubious distinction of being the first non-Southern city ordered by the federal courts to desegregate its public school system. This court-order sparked a decade long battle within the school district. Pasadenans became entrenched in two camps: progressives who wanted to integrate the schools and fundamentalists who vowed to stop court-ordered busing. Despite Pasadena’s precedent setting role, historians have neglected it. The battle in Pasadena is significant, however, because it suggests an anti-busing motive that historians have overlooked. The evidence shows

that opponents of integration in Pasadena used the tension over busing mainly as an election tool. Their agenda was twofold. First, they wanted to purify ideologically the public school system. Secondly, in order to achieve their first goal they needed to maintain local control, so they fought increasing federal intervention at every turn.The evidence shows that the federal court-order to desegregate the public school system caused a large number of moderate conservatives to shift to a more extreme position. This movement allowed fundamentalists to gain enough support using a “Stop Forced Busing” slogan to be elected to office and form a majority on the school board. It was clear to many in the community that fundamentalists had capitalized upon the fears of Pasadenans in

order to gain control of the board so that they could execute policies designed to return the public schools to their pre-1920s state of “fundamental education.” This paper is an attempt to examine the turbulent decade of the 1970s in Pasadena in order to understand the ideology of the fundamentalists who dominated the school board. From 1973 on, the battle over control of the school district had four main focal points: book banning, the creation of fundamental schools, purging the district of educators with unacceptable political philosophies, and, ending federal control of the school district. While these objectives were all tinged with racism, they were in reality much broader and more complex. The events surrounding the desegregation of the Pasadena school system presents

a challenge to the current race-centered analysis of anti-busing sentiment.Literature on anti-busing sentiment in the North and West tends to support a focus on race as the central issue involved. In Boston for example, both Ronald P. Formisano and J. Anthony Lukas1 found that the most violent reaction against busing and school desegregation came from the white working-class that felt betrayed by desegregation policies which targeted their communities while leaving the wealthier white suburbs effectively segregated. Both historians stress the key role played by racism in efforts to maintain segregated schooling in Boston. In fact, the historical scholarship that discusses northern busing issues seems to focus on the role of racism and place it at the center of the busing

opposition’s motives. The evidence from Pasadena, however, radically alters that perception. The actions of fundamentalists suggest that the role of anti-busing sentiments and the events in Pasadena were imbedded in a larger conservative agenda which was motivated in part by religious fundamentalism and an opposition to big government.This would suggest that anti-busing needs a broader analysis and that it would benefit from the historiography dealing with the rise of the political right in the post-World War II era. Historians need to look to sociology and the work of scholars such as Jerome Himmelstein. The concerns of fundamentalists in Pasadena fit neatly into studies of the rise of the political right in the 1970s and 1980s. Fundamentalists were deeply troubled by what