Education For Poor Students Threatened By Exclusionary Housing Policies, Report Says

Source: The Huffington Post

new Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program report  released Thursday lists which metropolitan areas’ housing policies most severely impede low-income students from attending high-performing schools, and found that zoning laws preventing the construction of affordable housing in wealthier neighborhoods are still widespread.

The report, “Housing Costs, Zoning, and Access to High-Scoring Schools,” concludes that restrictive zoning laws create “economic segregation that prevents millions of American children from getting the quality education they need.” The paper, written by Brookings senior research analyst Jonathan Rothwell, notes that in some cities, paying for private school is actually cheaper than moving to enroll in a better public school.

While policies that affect teachers, such as tenure and evaluations based on student test scores, have garnered recent attention and traction among state legislators, the Brookings paper makes the case for using zoning laws to change education. Rothwell said while there was movement toward changing zoning laws in the 1970s, a Supreme Court case that upheld the constitutionality of exclusionary zoning quashed momentum.

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.

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