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May 13, 2015

Understanding race and income concentration in public schools is a local (and important) story

May 13, 2015

The following is an excerpt from my new Urban Institute feature on America’s public schools:

 

In 2013, for the first time, over half of public school students were low-income—and this poverty growth spurt shows little sign of abating.

A majority of public school students nationwide are from low-income families, according to analysis by the Southern Education Foundation. But mapping this disadvantage shows that it’s unevenly spread across the country: poverty is concentrated in specific schools, and black students are more likely than white students to attend these high-poverty schools.…

If our school systems continue on a trajectory of increasing poverty, they will face mounting challenges educating students. What’s more, students of color will continue to face setbacks from the disadvantages of high-poverty schools, while white students will continue to benefit from a legacy of discrimination that largely insulates them from high-poverty schools. Public policy can and should respond, but policymakers need a more nuanced understanding of how this increase is playing out in local areas.

Read the full feature for interactive maps, the policy history that helped create these patterns, and promising strategies for our public schools to set up all students for success.

AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

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