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Urban SuburbanThe Spencerport Central School District held a meeting Tuesday night about possibly joining the Urban-Suburban program. During this packed meeting, many parents expressed concern, fear and anger over the prospect of 70 minority children attending their schools over the next decade. The children would be accepted as space permits and taxpayers would not pay extra.


It’s been almost 20 years since Urban-Suburban generated such controversy.

In 1998, 10-year-old Jessica Haak wanted to transfer from Rochester City Schools to West Irondequoit through Urban-Suburban. When the program administrator found out she is white, her invitation was rescinded. Urban-Suburban, founded in 1965, is only open to students of color. Haak sued in federal court, saying her rights were violated. The district court judge agreed with Haak. But a federal appeals court found reducing racial segregation is a compelling reason to have a program such as Urban-Suburban, and sent the case back to the district court for trial. The court based its ruling on a handful of previous cases dealing with school desegregation schemes.

In their opinion, the judges note why there is de facto segregation in New York:

There is no question that New York State structures its public school system such that each student has only the right to attend the school in the district in which he or she lives. Moreover, the evidence in the record indisputably shows that the (Urban Suburban) Program was enacted in 1965 to deal with racial segregation in the Monroe County schools resulting from this policy in combination with segregated living patterns.

But the judges identify the major flaw with the Urban Suburban program. A concurring judge wrote:

The statistics with which we have been supplied during this appeal suggest that in the 35 years of its existence the minority pupil population in Rochester City School District has increased from 25.6 percent to 80 percent…. It is extremely difficult to see how this program has had any meaningful impact upon the existence of schools or school districts with “a predominant number or percentage of students of a particular racial/ethnic group.”

Therefore, even though the defendants may have had a sufficiently compelling interest to justify the program at its inception, it is difficult to see how the interest continues, given the program’s limited impact. If a compelling interest no longer exists, it seems to me that the entire program may fail as being unconstitutional, and the plaintiffs would have no remedy.

A dissenting judge made the same point:

Therefore, even though the defendants may have had a sufficiently compelling interest to justify the program at its inception, it is difficult to see how the interest continues, given the program’s limited impact. If a compelling interest no longer exists, it seems to me that the entire program may fail as being unconstitutional, and the plaintiffs would have no remedy…I do agree that there is no more effective means of achieving the reduction of racial isolation than to base decisions on race alone. It is the most effective means; in this case, it just is not a constitutional means.

While Spencerport parents expressed all kinds of concerns about Urban Suburban, they missed the biggest one: Urban Suburban doesn’t work. It’s goal is to “voluntarily reduce racial isolation, and the segregation of academic opportunities.” It undoubtedly helps the nearly 600 students who participate every year, and it presumably helps their classmates who benefit from being exposed to children unlike themselves. But as Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski has said, “it’s tokenism.”

Urban Suburban makes participating school districts feel like they’re making a difference, even though our schools are still some of the most racially and economically segregated in the nation. Spencerport parents could have embraced the program for what it is – a small gesture.  Instead, they exposed Urban Suburban for what it is not – true change.


Links of the Day:


– I do not see anything groundbreaking in U of R’s plan to save East High. Implementation and execution will be key.

– Amy Pierson acknowledges all that unity after her husband’s death has evaporated.

– “It’s one of the most shocking documents ever produced by any modern democracy about its own abuses of its own highest principles.”

– The incomes of young Americans are shrinking.

– It takes 146 days to get a dermatology appointment in Syracuse.

– Minorities at Harvard, other law schools seek delays in finals because they’ve been busy protesting.

Corporations have meteorologists, too.

– A Rochester man wants to collect fire patches before he dies. He’s getting a lot of help.

The crows are back!









As the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Rochester race riot approaches, there will be many news stories and events reflecting on what happened. Here’s a summary from the Monroe County library website:

Rochester, New York, is a city known for its tolerance and forward thinking concerning the civil rights of all individuals. In the 1800s, leaders such as Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony championed the rights of African Americans and women from the environs of our town, setting the stage for the twentieth century. Yet despite efforts for social justice, persistent discrimination in areas like employment and housing institutionalized inequality in the city and throughout the nation. Racial tension between African Americans and whites mounted in many urban areas, sometimes culminating in full-scale riots like those that gripped Rochester in July 1964. 

Rochester’s race riots began the night of July 24, 1964, at a street dance held on Nassau Street between Joseph Avenue and Joiner Street. City policemen with dogs arrested a young man, eliciting protest from onlookers. The situation escalated and by 3 o’clock the following morning the city had declared a state of emergency. While most of the violence, looting, and vandalism affected the city’s northeast neighborhood in the 7th Ward, sporadic rioting also broke out in the 3rd Ward southwest of downtown and spread to the 5th Ward around Central Park. State police and, later, the National Guard joined city and county efforts to quell the unrest. On July 26, law enforcement brought the rioting under control. By August 3, the Guard and state police had withdrawn and city police returned to normal operations. 

In addition to the debris and property damage left in the wake of the riots, hundreds of people were arrested. Five people were killed; four of the deaths resulted from a helicopter crash near Clarissa Street. From this upheaval grew community organizations such as the Urban League of Rochester and FIGHT (Freedom, Independence, God, Honor, Today), which advocated for change in hiring practices, urban renewal, and additional measures for equality and set the agenda for other northeast cities as well. 

Click here for a timeline of the riot.

Fifty years later, inequality persists. Our schools and neighborhoods are segregated by race and income. Some city ZIP codes have enormously high poverty and unemployment rates. Young black men have a higher chance of dropping out of school, becoming victims of homicides and going to prison. Suburban flight, the drug war and  a lagging economy have exacerbated the problems of the very neighborhoods were the riot took place.

Could such a riot happen again?

Despite the entrenched problems in poor neighborhoods, there has been a lot of progress in diversifying the police force and City Hall over the past half-century. There are strong neighborhood groups with a voice at City Hall, even in poor sections of the city. There are many agencies working hard to lift people out of poverty, provide more opportunities, keep an open dialogue and hold governments accountable. People of color now make up a majority of city residents.

Yet, a recent survey found more than half of non-white residents and residents of northeast Rochester, where the 1964 riot started, do not trust police. Also, the bleak statistics of life in challenged neighborhoods suggests many residents are as disenfranchised as residents were fifty years ago. Could that translate into a riot, or as Minister Franklin Florence calls it, a “rebellion?”

I don’t know.

(Click here to see a number of events marking the anniversary.)


Links of the Day:


– Whatever Congel and Golisano were planning in regards to the Bills, they’re not anymore. At least not together.

– Check out where Cuomo spends most of his time. (He went to Syracuse more than Rochester…)

– Buffalo will start ticketing Lyft drivers. (Rochester is taking a wait and see attitude.)

– Horrific violence fueled by drug trade threatens children of Honduras.

– There are states where you technically can’t hold public office if you’re an atheist.

– B.B. King struggled at the Syracuse Jazz Fest, but no one cared.


Tweet of the Day:


The Democrat and Chronicle, in a piece about the struggles of young black men, says many teachers don’t understand their culture:

The stories behind these statistics tell a bitter tale of generational poverty; of children born into single-parent homes; of mothers, many of whom have little education themselves, working low-wage jobs to support their children…

Already up against tough odds, these young men enroll in school systems largely unequipped to meet their academic needs, much less the social and emotional problems they may be struggling with…

Although they often enter school less prepared than their white classmates — and need extra help to level the playing field — black male students tend to be concentrated together in poor-performing schools where they have fewer opportunities.

Added to that, many teachers lack a basic understanding of the culture black male students come from and misinterpret their behavior, something that drives a disproportionate number of young black men being expelled, suspended or placed in special education.

Poverty, concentrated poverty in schools, family structure and the lure of the street culture are more compelling reasons for the struggles of black male youth than “teachers don’t understand.” Teachers are with their black male students every day year after year. To state as fact many don’t understand their students is very controversial and offensive to teachers. This is not a new debate. Rochester school board member Cynthia Elliott caused a big stir when she suggested white teachers were not as equipped to teach black students.

There’s no question schools play a role in the success or failure of young black men. There’s no question institutional racism plays a role; our schools are segregated by race and income. City schools do not have the same resources as suburban schools. (Much of funding goes to special needs.)

The question is what role the school system should play in elevating black male students. The D&C cites well-funded programs in New Jersey to target the population with intense mentoring and teacher training. The school is called on to fill gaps in the community.

Links of the Day:

– St. John Fisher students complain about a lack of parking. Notice how they’re forced to pay for a lot that’s free to the general public.

There are 10 dry towns left in New York state.

– Colleges are clamping down on free speech in the name of sensitivity.

Food recalls are on the rise.

The Village of Webster is putting a moratorium on private roads in new developments. The village wants to be a walkable community and private roads keep other people out. That’s by design, according to a report in the Democrat and Chronicle:

“Our comprehensive plan calls for a walkable community, but a private road is private property and village residents would not be free to walk on those roads,” village trustee Christine Reynolds said.


Lee Sinsebox, an engineer working on that development (40-townhouses), phrased Reynolds’ point about private drives differently: “It keeps the community a little more private instead of inviting people through the development that don’t really live there,” he said.

Private developments do not foster a community spirit and can perpetuate fear and stereotypes. Keeping out “others” has consequences. After the Trayvon Martin shooting in a gated community in Florida, a lot was written about private housing complexes. Researcher Rich Benjamin wrote in the New York Times:

Gated communities churn a vicious cycle by attracting like-minded residents who seek shelter from outsiders and whose physical seclusion then worsens paranoid groupthink against outsiders.


In this us-versus-them mental landscape, them refers to new immigrants, blacks, young people, renters, non-property-owners and people perceived to be poor.

We are seeing the fear of “others” play out in the Village of Pittsford, where residents fear   renters of luxury apartment buildings.

Good for Webster for taking a stand and examining the type of community it would like to be.

Links of the Day:

– Five hundred workers at a state fraud agency apparently have nothing to do. That’s only the beginning of the problems.

– An Erie County man sued a marriage counselor after finding her in bed with this wife.

Will the rules of Albany become the rules of Washington when it comes to negotiating a budget?

A think tank, the New York Foundation for Education Reform, recommended New York state explore school “open enrollment.”

“Open enrollment” is school choice on steroids. This group favors vouchers and charter schools, but it also suggests suburban schools take in city kids.

Monroe County has such a program in Urban Suburban. Seven suburban districts hold slots for students from the city. While this is a great program, it does little to address segregation and concentrated poverty. Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski once called the program “tokenism” because of the small numbers of students allowed to participate.

Studies show integrating schools lifts the performance of low-income students and does not disrupt the performance of high-income students.  Yet no one – not even the governor – believes metro school districts will ever happen.

“Open enrollment” could more widely integrate schools. But the concept assumes suburban schools have the space. It also assumes suburban schools would throw open their doors to city students in larger numbers. I got this message from a parent whose child attends an Urban Suburban school:

I’m paying a metric #($*& ton of money for ____ schools. The teachers are excellent and the overall quality of the district is very high. I’m not willing to have my investment, if you will, be soured. Not for one second. This is my children’s education and my school taxes being played with. I welcome students from the RCSD with open arms, but if they disrupt my kid’s class, I have absolutely *no* hesitation to call the district and ask for their removal.

Many, many parents share this view. The way our schools are funded has a lot to do with this kind of thinking. If people are paying $7,000 a year in property taxes, it’s not hard to see why they don’t want to give “freebies” to outsiders.

Let’s think about this parent’s “investment.” This parent also pays a lot of tax dollars that go to the RCSD via the state. This parent pays a lot of tax dollars that go to welfare, Medicaid and the state prison system. God forbid this parents ever becomes a victim of a crime perpetrated by someone who dropped out of school.

We’re either in this together, or we’re not.

Read “open enrollment” report.

Links of the Day:

– A lawsuit has been filed against Time Warner Cable over the new modem rental fee.

– Will New York driver licenses go black and white?

– A Syracuse high school gives Muslim students a room to pray.

– This is not cool. The New York State Lottery planted a fake news story to solicit info about a fraudulent claim.

Monroe County is home to the richest and poorest school districts in Upstate New York.

Buffalo Business First magazine ranked districts using socioeconomic date from the state education department and census.

Pittsford is the most affluent district, with only 4 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch and 5 percent of students living in poverty. Brighton was ranked 8th, Penfield 15th and Victor 20th.

Rochester is the least affluent school district, with 85 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch and 39 percent of students in poverty. (Recent census figures show 53 percent of all children in the city live in poverty.) Syracuse and Buffalo were also in the bottom five.

The data indicates poverty is very real in some Monroe County suburbs. In East Rochester and East Irondequoit, about one in five students lives in poverty.

Rochester and Pittsford are only 8 miles apart. This list makes the gulf feel much wider, doesn’t it?

Update: A follow-up ranking by Business First lists Pittsford first academically.

Links of the Day:

– The way the New York state prison system treated a raped inmate is a disgrace.

– One year out of college, women are already paid less than men.

– The blue recycling bin will likely be a thing of the past.

– A bunch of kids went down with concussions at a Pee Wee football game in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, a retired doctor in a small New Hampshire town proposed ending high school football.

– Portraits of Governor Andrew Cuomo. Not the kind he’ll hang in his office.

If you live in one of Rochester’s majority black and Latino neighborhoods, odds are you have a higher-cost government backed mortgage.

That’s according to a study, Paying More for the American Dream, first reported in the Rochester Business Journal. Among the organizations conducting the study were Empire Justice Center in Rochester.

The report looked at 2010 Federal Housing Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs loans.

In Rochester, these loans accounted for 86.4 percent of all home loans in minority neighborhoods. About a third of refinance loans in black and Latino neighborhoods were government backed, twice the rate as white neighborhoods. Forty percent of black borrowers got government backed refinance loans, compared to 23 percent of Latinos and 15 percent of whites. The study says:

The findings indicate persistent mortgage redlining and raise serious concerns about illegal and discriminatory loan steering.


FHA loans can offer certain advantages. Borrowers with lower credit scores, for example, can qualify for FHA loans, which also typically require smaller down payments than conventional loans. Indeed, government backed loans may be the only viable loan option for many borrowers. FHA loans can also present drawbacks, however. They are typically more expensive, for example, and can take longer to be approved than conventional loans.

The report calls for more government oversight and enforcement.

Links of the Day:

– Few kids pass summer school in the Rochester City School District. I’m not sure why this is so surprising. If there’s a massive failure rate during the school year, why would anyone think students will suddenly get their acts together in six weeks? The article did shed light on chaos and computer problems that are not helping matters.

– State senate Republicans say gun control measures are a non-starter.

– Five people are accused of beating and robbing migrant workers in Wyoming County.

Are suburban office parks in trouble?

– A former skinhead writes about what he would have told the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooter.

Anne Hathaway digs the Finger Lakes. 

There is such a gap between the experiences of rich kids and poor kids, the differences between the haves and the have-nots will continue to worsen. David Brooks write in the New York Times about “The Opportunity Gap:”

A generation ago, working-class parents spent slightly more time with their kids than college-educated parents. Now college-educated parents spend an hour more every day…

Affluent parents also invest more money in their children. Over the last 40 years upper-income parents have increased the amount they spend on their kids’ enrichment activities, like tutoring and extra curriculars, by $5,300 a year. The financially stressed lower classes have only been able to increase their investment by $480, adjusted for inflation…

Richer kids are roughly twice as likely to play after-school sports. They are more than twice as likely to be the captains of their sports teams. They are much more likely to do nonsporting activities, like theater, yearbook and scouting. They are much more likely to attend religious services.

It’s not only that richer kids have become more active. Poorer kids have become more pessimistic and detached.

City of Rochester Communications Bureau

This “opportunity gap” is painfully evident in Upstate New York’s cities. The Urban Land Institute ranked 100 metro areas on gaps between white and black residents in income, housing, school test scores and employment. Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse ranked in the bottom 10.

A Brookings Institution study found that poor people have limited access to higher quality schools. Rochester also scored badly in this study.

The consequences to society of unequal access to opportunity can be dire in terms of unemployment, crime and poverty. But there are also moral reasons to strive for equal opportunity.

It remains very true that anyone can “make it” in America. But when the barriers are high, fewer people will.

Links of the Day:

– A study has found creating a countywide school system in Ontario County is feasible, but it may not save money.

– How can bus systems attract people who don’t need to ride the bus? Should they even try?

– Remember “Dirty Dancing?” The Catskills wants to be known as something other than cheesy resorts.

– A test shows whether your cancer is good and you’ll live or bad and you’ll die. Would you want to know?

– PETA named Frontier Field a Top 10 vegan-friendly ballpark.

1990 (mixedmetro.us)

2000 (mixedmetro.us)

2010 (mixedmetro.us)

More Links of the Day:

– There’s a cool mapping tool that plots diversity in the 53 largest metro areas in the country. The maps use 2010 census information.

The color code is:

  • Dark Orange – predominantly white
  • Light Orange – moderately white
  • Dark Green – predominantly black
  • Light green – moderately black
  • Light purple – moderately Latino
  • Brown – high diversity

The above maps clearly show how the Rochester area has gotten more racially diverse over the past two decades. They also show shifts in diversity. But the Rochester maps show what many other cities show. Atlantic Cities writes:

…many cities are seeing an increase in integrated neighborhoods and an increase in segregated ones at the same time.

It’s important to look at racial and economic segregation because of the impact on housing, education and society at large.

– Rochester police sent an email to community leaders about East End and South Wedge street robberies, as well as the theft of Hondas. Why wasn’t this information sent to the media? To rely on neighborhood leaders – wonderful as they are – to issue alerts to residents, is not efficient or reliable.

The conspiracy theorist in me says the city doesn’t want to alarm anyone about East End muggings during the Jazz Festival, but I could be wrong.

The brothers who run Constellation Brands get a pretty hefty booze allowance.

Why are American children so spoiled?

Links of the Day:

The New York Times has an incredible and revealing look at the impact of racial segregation in schools. The Times visited a Brooklyn charter school, where almost all of the students are black:

In the broad resegregation of the nation’s schools that has transpired over recent decades, New York’s public-school system looms as one of the most segregated.


At Explore, as at many schools in New York City, children trundle from segregated neighborhoods to segregated schools, living a hermetic reality.


Decades of academic studies point to the corroding effects of segregation on students, especially minorities, both in diminished academic performance and in the failure to equip them for the interracial world that awaits them.


…staff members also wonder about the isolation of the students. Adunni Clarke, 34, who is black and is the lead intervention teacher who helps students and teachers who need extra support, said: “I don’t know that our kids get their placement in the world. I don’t know that they realize that they’re competing against all these other cultures.”

The same is true of Rochester city schools. The city is 43.7 percent white, but only 11 percent of the students are white. One-third of the city lives in poverty, but 88 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Educational segregation has very real consequences for children. Studies show integration helps disadvantaged students achieve in school.

– Buffalo’s towing scene is insane. Alleged bribes, a murder and an FBI probe.

Newspaper paywalls are bad for a few reasons.

– I would love to pay to get HBO on my iPad and ditch cable altogether. But a standalone streaming service is likely not in the cards.

City of Rochester Communications Bureau

A report from Brookings Institution will not come as a surprise, but it’s a sobering reminder that our community remains segregated and has a giant opportunity gap.

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.

When it comes to education, income matters. That’s nothing new, but new research shows it matters now more than ever. The achievement gap between rich and poor children is widening, reports the New York Times:

“We have moved from a society in the 1950s and 1960s, in which race was more consequential than family income, to one today in which family income appears more determinative of educational success than race,” said Sean F. Reardon, a Stanford University sociologist. Professor Reardon is the author of a study that found that the gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income students had grown by about 40 percent since the 1960s, and is now double the testing gap between blacks and whites.


One reason for the growing gap in achievement, researchers say, could be that wealthy parents invest more time and money than ever before in their children (in weekend sports, ballet, music lessons, math tutors, and in overall involvement in their children’s schools), while lower-income families, which are now more likely than ever to be headed by a single parent, are increasingly stretched for time and resources.

The school reform movement doesn’t like to talk about poverty. “Poverty is not an excuse for poor performance,” the reformers say.

Yet research shows it matters. So what we do? Reducing poverty would obviously help. So would economically integrating schools, according to a study of Montgomery County, Maryland schools.

But few people want to talk about poverty and integration, preferring instead to focus on closing schools, charter schools, alternative schools and teacher evaluations.

Governor Cuomo thinks school integration is a lost cause, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard. The newspaper asked him about the concentration of poverty and the possibility of creating metro schools:

In one sense, Cuomo agreed.

“There’s no doubt that structurally, fundamentally, that’s the problem, and it’s vicious,” Cuomo said. “Because as you take the families (who) leave who can leave …. you’re taking the intact families, the higher-income families, you’re leaving behind the poorer family and you’re actually increasing the burden on the (city) school system.”

Even so, the governor said, realigned school districts won’t happen.

“I don’t think you’re going to change the minds politically,” Cuomo said. “What you’d have to do is go to the surrounding suburbs and say, ‘We want to have a unified school district and we want you to have your kids go to school with the city kids.’ They’re going to say: ‘No, that’s why I left, that’s why I moved here, that’s why I pay my higher taxes so I don’t have to do that.'”

The Post-Standard says Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke in Syracuse in 1965 and warned of the consequences of the North’s “ghetto schools.” But Cuomo says any suggestion poor, urban school district cannot achieve is a “sad and damning commentary.”

It’s a sad commentary, but one that rings true.

City of Rochester Communications Bureau

More Links of the Day:

Although a recent study found America is less racially segregated than ever before, there are places where it persists. In some of those places, there is a significant “opportunity gap.”

The Urban Land Institute ranked 100 metropolitan areas based on black-white equality. The study measured residential segregation, income, employment, school test scores and home ownership.

Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse ranked in the bottom ten.

Here’s Rochester’s report card:

Overall: F | 92nd

Residential Segregation: D

Neighborhood Income Gap: F

School Test Score Gap: D

Employment Gap: F

Home ownership Gap: D

The Atlantic points out the study doesn’t take into account the different sizes and lifestyles of each metro area.

But I’m glad this study went a little further than the Manhattan Institute study that looked at residential segregation. That study proclaimed our country is less segregated than ever. As I blogged recently, the data showed only slightly more integration in Rochester. It certainly feels segregated here. This study shows it is – and points out possible consequences.

– What’s up with Syracuse’s school superintendent? She proposed a budget with a 12 percent increase – unheard of in these tough fiscal times. If that’s not shocking enough, her budget has a $35 million hole and she has no idea how to fill it.

– Kodak has a big bankruptcy hearing next Wednesday. The court filings show everyone is lining up to get their piece of the pie. They also suggest Kodak could be having a hard time with vendors right now.

– Rochester’s ShotSpotter program has a shockingly low return on investment. More than 3,000 activations led to only six arrests.

– Save the Crows! Here’s my story on the Facebook group protesting the city’s crow removal. My favorite line: “They’re birds. Let birds be birds.”

America’s cities are becoming less segregated, according to a new report by the Manhattan Institute.

The report names several reasons for the racial integration:

  1. Black people have moved to the suburbs. There are very few all-white neighborhoods these days. Most neighborhoods have at least a few black residents.
  2. Ghettos are emptying out. We’ve certainly seen this in Rochester. One census tract in northeast part of the city lost one-third of its residents in the last decade. Some of this has to do with public housing policies that fostered integration. The study noted, however, that while all-white neighborhoods are becoming extinct, the number of predominantly black neighborhoods declined only 7 percent from 2000 to 2010.
  3. Gentrification and immigration. White people and immigrants are moving into ghettos in some cities, though this is seen as a minor factor.

What’s the story in Rochester?

The report found only slightly more integration here in the last decade. A look at the numbers shows segregation still persists.

Rochester’s Dissimilarity Index went from 65 percent in 2000 to 62 percent in 2010. That means 62 percent black people would have to move to create even distribution of races.

Rochester’s Isolation Index went from 36 percent in 2000 to 34 percent in 2010. That means the average black person lives in a neighborhood with 34 percent more black people than the metropolitan average.

Buffalo is more segregated than Rochester. Albany is less segregated. Syracuse is about the same. Binghamton was on the list of top 10 metro areas with the largest increases in segregation.

Why do we care?

Separate is unequal, as our history has taught us. Integration is important to decrease racism, isolation and poverty. It’s also important to increase opportunity and equality. But the study’s authors conclude racial integration is not a cure-all:

Yet we now know that eliminating segregation was not a magic bullet. Residential segregation has declined pervasively, as ghettos depopulate and the nation’s population center shifts toward the less segregated Sun Belt. At the same time, there has been only limited progress in closing achievement and employment gaps between blacks and whites.

I would have liked to see a report on economic and educational segregation, as well. Nothing’s a “magic bullet,” but our community still feels pretty segregated, doesn’t it?