The sprawling Wake County School District has long been a rarity. Some of its best, most diverse schools are in the poorest sections of this capital city. And its suburban schools, rather than being exclusive enclaves, include children whose parents cannot afford a house in the neighborhood, reports the Washington Post. But over the past year, a new majority-Republican school board backed by national tea party conservatives has set the district on a strikingly different course. Pledging to “say no to the social engineers!” it has abolished the policy behind one of the nation’s most celebrated integration efforts. And as the board moves toward a system in which students attend neighborhood schools, some members are embracing the provocative idea that concentrating poor children, who are usually minorities, in a few schools could have merits–logic that critics are blasting as a 21st-century case for segregation……Read More
Podcast Series: Innovations in Education
Explore the full series of eSchool News podcasts hosted by Kevin Hogan—created to keep you on the cutting edge of innovations in education.
Does income-based school integration work?
Economic integration, a concept first floated by early public-school crusaders like Horace Mann, is a compelling idea with intuitive appeal: reduce the preponderance of high-poverty schools by spreading poor students around, says Andrew J. Rotherham for Time. The idea jumped back into the spotlight this month when the Century Foundation released a new study touting the benefits of economically integrated schools. The glaring problem from a policy perspective, however, is that low-income families tend to live in the same neighborhoods, and dramatically changing housing patterns–or school-zoning boundaries–as a large-scale reform measure is impractical. The study looked at about 850 low-income students whose families took advantage of housing programs that enabled them to live in affluent parts of Maryland’s Montgomery County. Over the course of seven years, the high-poverty students attending low-poverty schools had better outcomes than their peers who attended schools that had greater numbers of poor students. In particular, the achievement gap at the elementary level was cut in half for math and by a third in reading……Read More