2nd NAACP Official Questions Merits of Busing

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For the second time in a month, the NAACP has had to grapple with internal dissent provoked by a local branch leader's criticisms of busing.

Robert H. Robinson, the president of the Bergen County, N.J., chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, triggered the latest flap with a Nov. 7 letter to the New Jersey board of education.

In it, he questioned the merits of proposals to combine several Bergen County school districts into one system in an effort to desegregate their schools.

"Whereas the NAACP has in the past supported busing of students for racial balance of schools, we do not support the idea of regionalization for racial balance," Mr. Robinson said in his letter.

"Racial balance is not the important factor here, equal and quality education is," he added. "There are studies that show that an integrated school does not necessarily provide quality education. Equal and quality education in all schools, regardless of racial balance, should be our goal."

In a subsequent interview with The New York Times, Mr. Robinson said that "regionalization is a code word for busing, and busing kids from one place to another doesn't necessarily mean quality education."

William Penn, the national director of branch and field services for the NAACP, initially responded by saying Mr. Robinson should retract his remarks, resign, or face suspension.

But Earl T. Shinhoster, the acting executive director of the NAACP, said in an interview last week that after meeting with Mr. Robinson and state NAACP officials, he concluded that Mr. Robinson's comments did not merit disciplinary action and that Mr. Penn's comments were premature.

Rift in Yonkers

The national organization has not been as successful in mending a rift with Kenneth W. Jenkins, the president of its Yonkers, N.Y., branch.

Mr. Jenkins made remarks last month critical of a federal court-ordered busing program used to desegregate that city's schools. Mr. Jenkins, who has maintained that his comments were taken out of context, has been suspended by the organization pending a disciplinary hearing.

Vol. 15, Issue 13

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