Millions of black students attend public schools that are highly segregated by race and by income

By Reed Jordan  ::  October 30th, 2014

Share

A version of this post originally appeared on RealClearPolicy.com

African Americans share a uniquely high exposure to poverty in the US. Through a century of various explicit public and private housing discrimination practices, African Americans of all socioeconomic classes live in higher poverty neighborhoods than whites of similar income. Living in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty is a phenomenon relatively common to African Americans, but almost unknown among white populations.

Exposure to concentrated neighborhood poverty harms kids’ life chances. But it’s not just African American kids’ neighborhoods that expose them to concentrated poverty. Black kids are also uniquely exposed to concentrated poverty in their public schools.

Black students are more likely to attend high-poverty schools

According to 2011-12 school year data from the US Department of Education, about 33 percent of all white students attend a low-poverty school and a mere six percent attend a high-poverty school. In other words, white kids are about five times more likely to attend a low-poverty school than a high-poverty school.

It is precisely the opposite pattern for African American kids, for whom attending a high-poverty school is commonplace. Over 40 percent of black students (about 3.2 million) attend a high-poverty school and only about 10 percent attend a low-poverty school. twitter_inline This means black students are four times more likely to attend a high-poverty school than a low-poverty school and over six times more likely than white students to attend a high-poverty school.

FRPL_1

Segregation by poverty, segregation by race

This “poverty segregation” in public schools tends to go hand-in-hand with racial segregation. Many African American students attend highly racially segregated schools, and when they do, they are more likely to end up in high-poverty schools, too.

When African American students attend a segregated school where the majority of students are kids of color, over half are attending high-poverty schools (53 percent), compared with 42 percent of all black students. As racial segregation in schools increases, so does the concentration of poverty. About 65 percent of black students in a school with a population that is three-quarters or more students of color are attending a high-poverty school.

At the extreme end of school segregation are schools with almost no white students (at least 9 out of 10 kids are students of color). Among black students attending these schools, 73 percent are in a high-poverty school, and remarkably few (five percent) attend a low-poverty school.

What’s more, it’s not a small number of black children attending such poor and racially isolated schools: over 2.1 million black students (or about 28 percent of all black students) attend schools that are both high-poverty and 90 percent students of colortwitter_inline

FRPL_2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schools can’t address segregation and poverty on their own

The  effects of exposure to concentrated poverty are large and long-lived and should be of concern to all institutions and systems responsible for the livelihood of black children. But it is not the responsibility of our school system to reduce poverty.

Poor, segregated schools are a symptom of a broader array of racial equity issues that flow from neighborhood segregation and housing discrimination, legal barriers to school desegregation, and  inequitable policies that precluded African American upward economic mobility in the past 40 years and precipitated recent significant downward mobility, with many falling out of the middle class.

Addressing how such class immobility and neighborhood stagnation manifest in poor, segregated schools requires comprehensive housing and school policy solutions so that black children are not inheriting concentrated disadvantage from one generation to another.

Housing programs can alleviate the concentration of race and poverty in schools. Promising initiatives include mobility programs with information for parents on neighborhood and school quality, rigorous enforcement of fair housing policies, and assistance with locating affordable housing in low-poverty neighborhoods with high-quality schools.

Regional school policy can also recognize that poor, racially isolated schools and neighborhoods are damaging to regions as a whole because the health of cities and their suburbs are intimately linked, then redraw school district lines (which often reinforce inequality) to cross suburb and city lines or incentivize resource-rich suburban schools to accept low-income transfers.

These are not untested, abstract ideas or fiscally burdensome initiatives, but proven policy and programs that can reduce concentration of race and poverty in our schools and neighborhoods. The best solutions leverage existing policies and funding to promote sustained racial and socioeconomic diversity. But the neighborhood school cannot solve these problems alone. No school should be expected to systematically outperform its neighborhood and overcome generations of compounded disadvantage.


Which states are more charitable, red ones or blue ones?

By Nathan Dietz  ::  October 29th, 2014

With less than a week until the midterm elections, all eyes are once again on the nation’s red-and-blue electoral map. Besides who they vote for, do residents of red and blue states differ in how they give? In early October, the Chronicle of Philanthropy published “How America Gives,” a look at the giving rate in [...]

Read More

Is marriage a solution to income inequality?

By Zach McDade  ::  October 29th, 2014

A new report sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies provides evidence that marriage may be a solution to income inequality. As the figure below (taken from the report) shows, married and unmarried households have had growing inequality in incomes. Median family income grew substantially between 1979 and 2012 for [...]

Read More

sandy-coaster

Hurricane Sandy: What we still haven’t learned

By Carlos Martín  ::  October 29th, 2014

Exactly two years ago, Superstorm Sandy made landfall in southern New Jersey. Within hours, its impacts were felt across more than a dozen states, particularly the densely populated New York and New Jersey coasts. Along with its toll on human lives, Sandy—the second-costliest hurricane in US history—dramatically altered livelihoods. One year ago, we posed a [...]

Read More

#GamerGate, victimization, and the role of the FBI

By John Roman  ::  October 28th, 2014

Few events are more disturbing to decent people than a wolf pack’s anonymous attack on an individual. In the age of the internet, this happens when one person is descended upon by a huge volume of threats or action perpetrated by many. Usually the attackers remain anonymous. The anonymity is comforting to the attackers and [...]

Read More

nonprofit-animal-rescue

Data in action: a breakthrough in estimating nonprofit employment

By Jeremy Koulish  ::  October 27th, 2014

Earlier this year, the federal Office of Management and Budget released a memorandum calling upon agencies to use existing, non-public administrative data sources more effectively for statistical purposes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) got the message. BLS recently announced the release of a new research dataset that will allow for more precise estimates of [...]

Read More

people_blog

Six reasons to celebrate the Housing Finance Policy Center’s one-year anniversary

By Laurie Goodman  ::  October 24th, 2014

When we first conceived of the Housing Finance Policy Center (HFPC), it was an ambitious idea:  create a new influential player in the housing policy space that could provide unbiased, nonpartisan, sophisticated evidence-based analysis, ideas, and commentary trusted by policymakers of all stripes. Such a capacity, we were confident, would yield better outcomes for American [...]

Read More

If voters approve hikes in November, 29 states will have minimum wages above the federal rate

By Richard C. Auxier  ::  October 22nd, 2014

Discussions about income inequality have put raising the minimum wage on the political agenda. But because opposition in Congress blocked an increase to the national rate of $7.25, the debate has moved to the states. This November, minimum wage increases are on the ballot in five states: Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska, and South Dakota. If [...]

Read More

1020blogLaborTrafficking

Hidden in plain sight: labor trafficking in the United States

By Matthew Johnson  ::  October 21st, 2014

Below is an excerpt from an interactive feature about a comprehensive new study on labor trafficking in the United States, led by Colleen Owens and Meredith Dank of the Urban Institute, and Amy Farrell of Northeastern University. Human trafficking generates a lot of media coverage in the United States, but that reporting often focuses on [...]

Read More