Twenty-Million Ruined Educations
by D. J. Connolly


In 1954, most black children were offered an inferior education in America's public schools, especially in the South.  The kids learned to read and write and do arithmetic.  They learned some history, geography, and respect for western values, and they learned to speak English.  However, their education was not equal to the education offered most white children at the same time.  White children, in the 1950's, got an excellent education in our big city schools.  Now most children, black and white, are offered an inferior education in America's public schools.  The education black children get in big cities is worse than inferior.  It's pathetic.

Failed urban public schools helped produce a black ghetto whose residents evolved their own language.  Having failed to teach English, school bureaucrats in Oakland, California decided to teach the black kids what they already knew.   In place of English, they proposed to teach "ebonics." [1]

A question comes to mind.  What caused the quality of our big city schools to go from excellent to pathetic in a few decades?  Various experts will give you a long list of reasons, but they'll never mention the main one.  Public mention of that reason would end the career of an educator or a politician; so they all practice denial.  Our urban public schools went from excellent to pathetic because of the actions of renegade federal judges.


We discussed the Warren Court's landmark school desegregation rulings in a companion essay.  And we learned that they were based on fraudulent constitutional interpretations.  However, they served important values, and they now enjoy a high degree of public respect.  So let's not beat a dead horse.  But let's keep two things about Brown v. Topeka in mind. [2]

First, the Brown case was about busing.  The Topeka School Board had required Linda Brown, because of her race, to ride a bus two miles rather than walk four blocks.  That injustice caught the public attention.  And it helped gain acceptance for legislation by judges.  Second, the Brown ruling ordered that students be admitted to public schools "on a racially nondiscriminatory basis."  That seemed fair to most Americans and also helped assure public acceptance of a 14th Amendment interpretation that defied the well-documented intent of the Amendment's authors. [2]

The Court soon junked the idea of public school admissions "on a racially nondiscriminatory basis."  And it soon lost its distaste for forced busing based on race.  Following its direction, federal judges ordered millions of school children, white and black, to do the same thing the Topeka School Board had forced Linda Brown to do.  They ordered them all to ride school buses miles past their neighborhood schools.  And they selected the victims by race.

The justices' motives had nothing to do with the Constitution.  They acted out of wounded pride.  In the South, the states had not offered much response to the Brown ruling.  Sometimes they even used state or local police power to frustrate its goals.  Southern public school segregation remained virtually unchanged until Congress passed an effective civil rights law a decade after the Brown decision. [2]

By the late 1960's, the lack of response to Brown v. Topeka made the ayatollahs on the Warren Court angry.  It offended their sense of the Court's power and prestige.  All over America racial injustice was on the decline.  Pro baseball had welcomed black players a decade earlier.  Harry Truman had integrated the armed forces.  In 1954, the Supreme Court had tried to grab part of the action too.  And "We the People" hadn't paid much attention.  Beginning in 1968, our judicial employees expressed their resentment by ordering hundreds of public school systems to integrate, no matter what the cost in resources or damaged lives.  The tool of choice was forced busing. [3]

The idea behind forced busing has been described as the "hostage theory".   Most citizens, black and white, supported the idea of equal access to public schools.  Most white parents were willing for their children to have black classmates.  But it was not their top priority.  So the justices decided to get their attention.  Federal courts took their children hostage and demanded ransom payments in the form of support for their own social engineering project.  The ransom note said, in effect: we'll make your children suffer until you make our plan work. [4]

In all the desegregation cases, the judges asserted that the programs were required by the need to uphold the Constitution.  However, forced busing based on race was contrary to the plain language of the Constitution.  It was also contrary to everything said by the people who framed the 14th Amendment, even the minority who took the broadest view of its meaning.  But at least our judiciary occupied the high moral ground.  It was only trying to serve the ideal of racial equality.  Right?

Wrong.  While the Supreme Court was demanding forced busing programs, its members ran their own shop like a plantation.  You can read about it in the book, The Brethren, by Woodward and Armstrong.  All the high-ranking Court employees were white, all the lowest ranking workers were black; and the justices treated the Blacks like serfs.  They forced them to provide personal service on the workers' own time.  

Justice William O. Douglas was the worst offender; he ordered black Supreme Court employees to drive him around, clean his home, and do his shopping.  Black cleaning women lived in fear of being fired if they broke anything.  Within the Supreme Court, racism was plain to see.  That racism mocked the justices' claim to be acting out of high ideals.  They were acting out of concern for their own power and prestige. [5]

Under the direction of a racist and power-mad Supreme Court, federal judges all over America took millions of children hostage.   They poured many billions of taxpayer dollars down various educational rat holes and ruined dozens of fairly successful school systems.  The complete story would fill a library.  One can, however, learn most of the judicial tricks by reviewing two fairly typical cases: Forty-Six Felons on the Payroll and Three-Billion Dollar Taj Mahals.

The Cleveland case study described in Forty-Six Felons on the Payroll includes well documented numbers that we'll use to compute an estimate of the total damage inflicted on American families and taxpayers by desegregation programs nationwide.  In response to federal court orders, the Cleveland schools wasted about one billion dollars in a little over two decades during which about 200,000 students passed through the system.  That averages out to about $5000 per student.  The billions of dollars wasted in the Kansas City case, Three-Billion Dollar Taj Mahals, was atypical.  But the story illustrates the incredible gall of our renegade judicial employees.


The Cleveland busing story was replicated dozens of times during the 1970s and 1980s.   For most of the period in question, about forty-five million students, give or take a few million, were in U. S. public schools.  In a typical year federal judges ran school systems containing at least 20 percent of the forty-five million.  That works out to about nine million victims each year. [6]

Each of those nine million children, on average, stayed in the public schools for about a decade.  In thirty years, the nine million victims turned over about three times.  So 27 million ruined educations is a reasonable estimate.

We'll assume that the $5000 per-student-cost in Cleveland was not far from average for the nation as a whole.  We know that 27 million is a reasonable estimate for the total number of students affected by integration programs nationwide.  Twenty-seven million times 5000 equals 135 billion.  

Now we should probably admit that a minority of students in schools run by courts somehow managed to get a decent education.  And all the above numbers are kind of rough anyway.  Let's just round off the estimates to $100 billion wasted and 20 million ruined educations.

There is growing alarm over the income gap between those who are well educated and those who are not.  Renegade federal judges deserve some of the blame for that gap.  They ruined the educations of twenty million people.  Most of the twenty million are on the wrong side of the gap.

Ruined public schools led middle class Whites to abandon dozens of large cities.  This wrecked the economies of those cities and the quality-of-life they could offer to those who remained.  Tax receipts went down and crime rates went up.  That caused most of the rest of the middle class to get out.  I don't plan to abuse you with more arithmetic; I won't estimate the cost of the damage to the cities.  However, you can bet that it's a very big number.

One can also make an argument that the desegregation programs damaged the educations of most public school children, not only the 20 percent, or so, who were directly involved.  The programs warped our public education priorities for more than a generation.  The wasted $100 billion came from state and local education budgets.  Consequently, that money was not available to cover real educational needs.

The programs also corrupted our public education establishment.  For more than three decades it embraced a fraud in order to avoid political problems and increase its cash flow.  How could it help becoming corrupt?  For those same three decades its cost has been going up and the quality of its work has been going down.


Beginning in 1954 the Supreme Court assured African Americans that their children had a right to a good public education.  And the courts were going to make sure they got it.  But the courts didn't deliver.  The black kids' educations did not get better; they got worse, much worse.

Liberal supporters of judicial activism needed to deflect attention away from the culprits.  They needed somebody else to blame.  So they proclaimed that America's white majority is racist.  Otherwise it would have followed the Court's leadership.

Let's take a look at that claim.  Let's look at two other public arenas in which racial integration programs were put in place; professional sports and America's defense establishment.

Perhaps you watched the 1997 World Series on TV.  It was played between the Cleveland Indians and the Florida Marlins.  The Marlins won; so that year Florida had the best team in baseball.  If you did watch the 97 Series, you saw a lot of black faces when the Marlins took the field.  Seven out of nine starting players, on the best team in baseball, were black.  So you would probably agree that America's best-loved sport is integrated.  By 1954, the year the Supreme Court decided Brown v. Topeka, major league baseball had forty-nine black players. [7]

Major league baseball did not always welcome Blacks.  Prior to 1947, they had to maintain their own league in order to play.  Everyone familiar with the game knew that plenty of Blacks were good enough to play in the majors.  But the major leagues had a whites-only rule.  It wasn't written down; it was informal.  But the most powerful man in the game enforced it.   From 1920 to 1944, the Baseball Commissioner was a former federal judge named Kenesaw Mountain Landis.  Landis made sure the Whites-only rule was enforced.

When Judge Landis retired a man named Branch Rickey decided to stick his neck out.  Rickey was president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  He decided that it was time to end the rule against black players in the major leagues.  Rickey didn't hire lawyers to contrive a fraudulent new rule in the Constitution.  He risked his own career and his own money; he hired a talented young black player named Jackie Robinson.

Mr. Rickey brought Jackie Robinson on board in 1947.  That was seven years before Brown v. Topeka.  Jackie's performance on the field played a key role in the Dodgers' success for the next decade or so.  During Jackie's career the Dodgers played in the World series six times and won it all in 1955.  Jackie also performed off the field as Mr. Rickey had hoped.  Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson changed millions of minds and hearts.  The only federal judge in the story was Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

Baseball, like most other professional sports, has long been integrated.  Black and White professionals respect each other.  Millions of white children admire the black players.  The story of pro sports gives the lie to the claim that attempts at public school integration failed because most white Americans are racist.

Now let's take a look at race relations in America's armed forces.  Until 1948, the Army and Navy had segregated units.  In that year, President Harry Truman issued an Executive Order ending the practice.  Truman offered no fiction about a need to follow the Constitution.  He just issued an executive order.  There was a fair amount of grumbling about the White House forcing the Army and Navy to change.  Politicians predicted dire results.  However, the soldiers and sailors all knew that Harry Truman was Commander-In-Chief.  The legitimacy of his order was beyond question.  So the officers and men not only followed that order, they made it work [8].

America's armed forces have long led the nation's progress in racial equity.  All three services have a higher percentage of Blacks than does the public at large.  There are many thousands of Blacks commanding Whites.  By the mid 1990's, 7 percent of the Army's Generals, 11 percent of its commissioned officers, and about 35 percent of its sergeants were black [9].

In February 1954, a young black man named Colin Powell graduated from Morris High School in the South Bronx.  That was a couple of months before the Supreme Court decided Brown v. Topeka. Powell then began a long and successful career in the U. S. Army.  He found bigots there, but he also found a system that allowed him to succeed.  About forty years later, Colin Powell retired as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  He had reached the highest and most visible position in the U. S. Armed Forces [10].

Colin Powell, like Jackie Robinson, gave a class performance in a pioneering role.  Whites in America responded to Powell in the same way they had responded to Robinson.  It appeared, in 1995 and 1996, that Colin Powell could have become U. S. president in the coming election, had he chosen to run.  Leaders of both major parties offered him support.  Republicans begged him to compete for the nomination of their party.  According to public opinion polls, he could have easily beaten all of the other contenders in the 1996 election [11].

Professional sports and our armed forces both ended segregation.  Both successes resulted from legitimate and honest actions.  And both enjoyed public support.  The efforts of lawless judges not only failed to achieve their stated goals, they wrecked our urban public schools.  And they badly damaged millions of lives.

Why did public school integration fail while the other two efforts succeeded?  Blaming the racism of the American people is part of a brazen cover up.  The attempt by federal courts to integrate public schools failed because it was not legitimate.  The people saw judicial lawlessness for what it was.  So they refused to cooperate.


It's probably worth pointing out that lawless judges don't deserve all the blame for the ill effects of forced public school integration; they had accomplices.  The nominal plaintiffs were usually school children, but the children were just pawns.  The real plaintiffs were special interest groups composed mainly of liberal social engineers and trial lawyers.  In some cases, liberal public school insiders also helped them out.  The defendants played dead while the lawyer-lobbyists suing them "proved" that local public schools had been segregated on purpose.

None of what's written just above is any big secret.  It's well known that bureaucrats often sell out the public and help position judges to legislate in order to get a budget increase.  You can read about this in a book written by Richard Posner, a federal judge.  Posner suggested that judges played the game because they enjoyed the "patronage" and they were sometimes "drunk" with power.  "Patronage" means that the judge gets to misuse public funds to give high paying jobs to his unqualified friends [12].

School busing cases provided the ideal vehicle for lawyers and judges to develop and refine the consent decree scam, a slick way to sneak a political deal into the law.  As its name implies, a consent decree is a court order to which the defendant has consented.  The scam works especially well when the defendant is a group of public officials like a school board.

A plaintiff, who aims to force a policy change opposed by "We the People," sues in court.  He claims that the court must order the change to satisfy the Constitution.  The "defendant" likes the proposed change.  It will raise his budget or get him out from under the control of the voters.  So he plays dead.  He allows the evidence presented in court to be biased in favor of the plaintiff's claim.  The judge may also favor the proposed change.  He moves in the same elite circles as the plaintiff and the defendant.  And they all share a fondness for social engineering.

Most of the people oppose the change; but they don't get to vote.  This is a matter in which only lawyers get to vote.  The lawyers for the defendant and the plaintiff make a deal.  They agree to spend millions of dollars of the people's money and to bus thousands of the people's children all over the place.  The defendant doesn't care about any of that.  It's not his money; they're not his children.  The money and children belong to "We the People."  Who cares what they think?

The judge signs a court order giving the deal the force of law.  So the results of that consent decree will bind the people for decades.  The lawyers then call a press conference.  They say "thank God; we are now following the Constitution."  Then the judge and the lawyers on both sides shake hands all around, and go to lunch.  The next summer they attend each other's daughters' weddings.

The people grumble; but they accept the result because they respect the Constitution.  Nobody tells them the truth.  Nobody tells them their school busing program has got nothing to do with the Constitution; it's just another smelly political deal.  The media helps with the cover up.


1.  Around the end of 1996, there was much discussion of ebonics in the press.  See, for example, the piece in USA Today, Dec. 20, 1996, page 3A. It was written by Anita Manning.

2.  The essay, Viking Jurisprudence Part 2, can be found on the Internet.

3.  We've argued elsewhere that the Supreme Court is defying the First Amendment by imposing an alien religion on "We the People."

4.  See Bentley for the original sources of the term, "the hostage theory."

5.  The account of the "plantation" in the Supreme Court was taken from Woodward, pages 288 and 289.  Beyond that recent evidence, the record shows that the Supreme Court had been a thoroughly racist institution for at least a century.  See the online essays, Racism in the Court and Congress Shall Not Have the Power.

6.  National statistics on school desegregation were obtained mainly from Welch.  Welch's study analyzed 109 of the largest public school districts affected by court ordered desegregation programs.  The 109 districts contained a little less than 20 percent of all public school students.  They contained a little less than 50 percent of the black students.  Information on total student enrollment was spread throughout Welch's book.  I found parts of the story on pages 9, 11, 14, and 53.  Adding it all up I concluded that, on average, our public schools had about thirty-five million white students and about ten million minority students during the years in question.

7. Information presented on the Jackie Robinson story was all obtained from Allen.  See especially pages, 44-75, 195, 196, and 205.  You'll have to take my word for the count of black Florida Marlins.  Or, if you prefer, call up the team's management and request a check of its records.

8.  The story of Truman's order to integrate the armed services was based on material in Bernstein and Matusow, pages 95-114.

9. Moskos, Chapter 1, provided the statistics presented here concerning the success of Blacks in the armed forces.

10. Information on Colin Powell's career was obtained mainly from his autobiography (See the Bibliography).

11. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Colin Powell to the position of Secretary of State, the most prestigious position in the Cabinet.

12. See Posner, 1996, pages 340-1.



For publication data on works cited, check the Bibliography


This article contains matter from Grand Larceny: An Unexpurgated History of the Supreme Court.


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D. J. Connolly