The Brookings Institution released a new report today titled “Housing Costs, Zoning, and Access to High-Scoring Schools.” The report illustrates that housing costs around higher performing schools are, on average, 2.4 times higher than housing costs surrounding low-performing schools. In New York, this discrepancy is even greater– housing is a whopping 3.1 times higher near high-performing schools than low-performing ones.
At no surprise, this disparity demonstrates not only class divides, but also racial divides. Black and Hispanic children are much more likely to live in more affordable (i.e. cheaper) housing, and attend lower performing schools. Access to schools, therefore, is not explicitly based on class and race, but it is constrained by affordability. The report states that
the housing-cost gaps between neighborhoods with high-scoring and low-scoring schools revealed here confirm that it is financially impossible for many working-poor families to access high-scoring schools in the absence of lottery systems or other aggressive district efforts to integrate schools. For many families, it would be cheaper to send a child to a parochial or even more expensive private school than to move into the attendance zone of a high-scoring school.
The report points out that discriminatory and anti-density zoning laws further contribute to segregation in neighborhoods, and subsequently in school systems. In order to truly integrate school systems and narrow the education gap, it is crucial to maintain fair housing policies and allow for the expansion of affordable housing in all neighborhoods. Furthermore, the report advocates systems in which school access is not based solely on geographic proximity.
The research presented in the report show the complexities within social issues, and the underlying reality that seemingly disparate issues are actually quite connected. While tenants living in the Bronx suffer from poor housing conditions, it is clear they also deal with issues within the education system, higher environmental issues which impact health, and blatant racial and economic segregation. Through studies like this one, we are able to more fully recognize how policies on one issue impact us all in complex and overlapping ways.
To read the full report, click here.
And finally, to check out the interactive features available on Brookings’ website, click here.