Thursday, August 25, 2016

Segregating America's Schools

A great movement to re-segregate schools is underway. Across the United States wealthy communities are gerrymandering school districts to ensure that their children will not have to mix with the children of poorer families.

The Supreme Court case of Milliken v. Bradley in 1974 ruled that desegregation could not be ordered across school district lines. At the same time as rich neighborhoods are being allowed to create their own school districts, state funding of education is being slashed across the United States.

This ensures that schools are, like never before, reliant on local tax funding. In this way the richest neighborhoods ensure that they have the most well-funded and the best schools and at the same time the students of poorer neighborhoods will not be admitted to these schools.

Edbuild has created an interactive map which explores examples of the re-segregation of schools across the United States. The map visualizes the 50 most segregated borders between school districts in the country. It also allows you to view the most segregated borders in each state.

The Edbuild Fault Lines map also examines more closely education in five individual cities. These examples look at how rich neighborhoods are able to segregate their schools, ensure that they don't have to accept students from poorer neighborhoods and that they receive the best funding.

NPR has also looked closely at how school funding in the USA ensures that the rich get the best schools. They created an interactive map which visualizes how much each school district in the USA spends on school funding. Why America's Schools Have A Money Problem colors each school district based on the level of school spending in the district per student.

The map shows that local funding is usually dependent on the levels of local property taxes. If a district has a number of successful businesses contributing a lot of money through property taxes then the school district is more likely to have higher levels of school spending per student. In essence schools in affluent areas are likely to be much better funded that schools in less-affluent areas.

A nice complement to this map is the Memphis Teacher Residency's EdGap map. The EdGap map visualizes school SAT and ACT scores on top of the median household income in the school neighborhood.

The main take home point from this map seems to be that just about anywhere you look in the USA the school's with the worst SAT and ACT scores are mostly in the poorest neighborhoods and the school's with the best results are usually in the richest neighborhoods.

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