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Bernie Sanders Knocks Busing on This Week: ‘Does Anybody Think it’s a Good Idea’?

Independent Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said that busing to combat school segregation is not “optimal,” and asked, “Does anybody think it’s a good idea to put a kid on a bus, travel an hour to another school, and to another neighborhood that he or she doesn’t know?”

On Sunday morning’s edition of This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Sanders expressed qualified support for busing, but also criticized the policy that became a flashpoint at Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate.

Host George Stephanopoulos began by referencing the blockbuster exchange between California Senator Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden and said, “I want to bring the debate forward. You’ve mentioned — you’re concerned about the idea of resegregation of our schools. Does that mean that busing should be on the table today?”

Sanders initially dodged the busing question, telling Stephanopoulos that “resegregation is a very, very serious problem,” and adding that “the federal government has failed in fighting for fair housing legislation.”

“We need basically, in this country, well-funded public schools, we need to honor our teachers, respect teachers, make sure that they’re earning a living wage,” Sanders said. “We need to take care of those schools today, which have a lot of kids who are, in some cases, actually hungry, coming from troubled families. We need to build public education in this country. We need to make sure that kids go to community schools, which are integrated and that means we have to focus on fair housing legislation and enforcement.”

“But does that also mean busing?” Stephanopoulos asked, adding “Because your website actually says that you are coming out for repealing of the ban on funding for busing.”

“No, we’ve — busing is certainly an option that is necessary in certain cases, but it is not the optimal,” Sanders said, and added “Does anybody think it’s a good idea to put a kid on a bus, travel an hour to another school and to another neighborhood that he or she doesn’t know?”

“That’s not the optimal,” he continued. “What is the optimal is to have great community schools which are integrated, that’s what I think most people want to see. That’s what I want to see.”

Sanders also expressed openness to busing in remarks to the National Review on Friday.

According to reporting unearthed by Andrew Kaczynski‘s CNN K-File team, Sanders also offered qualified criticism of busing during a 1974 discussion with the Radical Education Action Project:

According to Sanders, in the long run, busing, as a means toward quality education for all school children, creates racial hostility where it did not previously exist. ‘‘The government doesn’t give a shit about black people,” he said.

Watch the clip above, via CNN.

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