A new report released today by the Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Policy Program argues that exclusionary housing policies are a primary factor in the perpetuation of educational inequality in America.
Entitled “Housing Costs, Zoning, and Access to High Scoring Schools,” the report finds that restrictive zoning laws lead to and perpetuate economic segregation, thus preventing millions of low-income students from receiving the high-caliber education they need and deserve. According to the Brookings Institute, “the average low-income student attends a school that scores at the 42nd percentile on state exams, while the average middle/high-income student attends a school that scores at the 61st percentile on state exams.”
The report suggests that to positively impact public education in America, a good (though politically difficult) place to start is unfair zoning laws.
“‘We don’t hear it so much because it’s hard politically,’ said Dianne Piche, a former U.S. Education Department official, who now leads education efforts for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. ‘Efforts like this have been really, really scaled back. There’s been very little interest on the part of this administration … but it would be sensible to coordinate housing policy and school policy.’
The disparities are clear. On average, low-income students attend schools whose state test scores are in the 42nd percentile, but their more affluent peers attend schools with scores in the 61st percentile, Rothwell found. He also uncovered a connection between less restrictive zoning policies and smaller score gaps. According to the report, housing near a high-scoring public school costs 2.4 times more per year than housing near low-performing schools.
‘We think of public education as free and open to all, but the quality of public education that the family has access to is largely determined by their income,’ Rothwell said.”
How do we ensure that every child receives the quality education they deserve?
Why are zoning laws such an unsavory topic politically?
Sound off below?