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Research Connects School Choice to Gentrification

One unintended consequence of No Child Left Behind: increased gentrification.
April 6, 2018, 6am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Matt Barnum surveys the growing body of evidence that school choice can exacerbate gentrification. As Barnum summarizes the problem: "The ability to opt out of the neighborhood school increased the likelihood that a mostly black or Hispanic neighborhood would see an influx of wealthier residents."

In that case, Barnum was describing the findings of research by Francis Pearman and Walker Swain, which examined national data. "[N]ow another study, focusing on Charlotte, North Carolina, has come to similar conclusions: Housing prices spiked in areas where students were given new ability to switch schools away from one deemed failing," adds Barnum.

In many cases, school choice is enabled by rules under the federal No Child Left Behind law, which "meant that that when schools failed to meet certain progress benchmarks two years in a row, students in the school’s attendance zone received priority to attend other popular schools in the district," explains Barnum.

There are more past studies to share, in addition to more detail about each of the two studies listed above. The larger quandary raised by all of this research is about the importance of creating and cultivating a strong bond between schools and neighborhoods.

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Published on Monday, March 19, 2018 in The Atlantic
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