Friday, March 15, 2024

The 100 Most Segregated School Districts in America

In the United States school district boundaries drawn onto economically and racially segregated neighborhoods ensure that most poor and non-white students receive a much worse education than students in the more affluent school districts.

Back in 2016 NPR examined how school funding in the USA is used to ensure that the rich get the best schools. They created an interactive map which visualized 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.

a map of the USA showing the amount of money spent per student in each school district

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.

Now the think tank New America has released a new interactive map which allows you to explore school district segregation by race and poverty levels. The Crossing the Line map identifies the 100 most racially segregated neighboring school districts and the 100 most segregated neighboring school districts by school-age poverty rates. It highlights those areas in the USA which have the starkest segregated school districts by race and by poverty level.

a map of the USA highlighting the 100 most racially segregated neighboring school districts

Birmingham, Alabama has some of the most segregated school district borders in the country. Birmingham City School District and Mountain Brook City School District are the two neighboring districts which have the starkest racial segregation in the USA, based on the 'percentage of students of color enrolled'. These two school districts are also the fifth most segregated by the school age poverty rates in each district.

New America argues that because of America's long history of racist housing segregation there is now a marked trend of lower property values in 'communities of color'. Because school funding is usually dependent on the levels of local property taxes those school districts in areas with lower property values spend less per student than those in more affluent areas. According to New America on average the "districts serving more students of color collect $2,222.70 less in local revenue per pupil than the predominately white districts". 

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