The study looked at the role zoning and housing costs play in students’ access to high-performing schools. The report found anti-density zoning laws and rules discouraging affordable housing lead to economic and educational segregation. This is bad, because studies show economic integration raises the performance of low-income students.
The Rochester metro area scored poorly in the study:
- Rochester has the 22nd most restrictive zoning laws in the country.
- Rochester is the 20th most economically-segregated area in the country. 47% of low-income students would have to change zip codes to achieve an equal income distribution across schools.
- Housing costs near high-scoring elementary schools are 2.7 times higher than housing costs near low-income elementary schools.
- High and middle-income students score 31 percentage points higher on standardized tests than low-income students. The size of the gap is the 7th highest in the country.
Here are excerpts from the study’s discussion:
When large numbers of students are not educated up to their potential, it drains the pool of potential inventors, researchers, civic leaders, and skilled laborers that would otherwise nurture innovation and economic prosperity.
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.
Discriminatory zoning that forbids the construction or use of inexpensive housing in affluent neighborhoods is still widespread in metropolitan America…zoning today keeps poor people out of rich neighborhoods, and accounts for a significant portion of the school test-score gap between low-income and other children.
(Education) reform ideas certainly have merit and should be carefully evaluated and considered, but they do not address one very important mechanism that sorts poor students into the lowest-scoring schools: housing policy.
I thought this was a powerful study. But in their conclusion, the authors left out the notion of a countywide school district. Given the data, it seemed obvious.