Friday, April 24, 2015

An Invisible Fence

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post acknowledging the rise in school "segregation" in America today and last week, I wrote about different types of schools that are experiencing it. One of the primary reasons schools are still segregated in America today is because of the housing segregation in America.

The vast majority of high school students attend public high schools. In 2014, 14.7 million high school students attended a public school, while only five million students attended private schools. Public schools are determined by the location of one's home, so if there is housing segregation in America, then the schools will most likely be segregated as well. The number of public school students is so high, so many of them are exposed to segregation which makes it a huge American problem.

The primary reason to the residential segregation is the discrepancy in income between minorities and whites.

This picture illustrates a rise in the amount of income inequality from 1980-2010. While the percentage of lower income households has remained the same, the number of upper income families has increased by five percent within the past 30 years. The decrease in middle income families shows a decrease in diverse neighborhoods and schools, for these are usually inhabited by middle income families. The Gini index, which is a measure of inequality, has increased dramatically from 0.404 in 1980 to 0.469 in 2011.

The income inequality plays a dramatic role in the rise of housing segregation in America today because people from upper income households generally can afford houses in wealthy neighborhoods, which are segregated and separated from the poorer neighborhoods that the lower income families reside in. 

In addition to income, many people live in neighborhoods where they feel "comfortable", which often times means with people of the same race. Kyle Crowder, a sociology professor at the University of Washington, said, "Blacks tend to originate in neighborhoods with very high concentrations of blacks and, when they move, they tend to move to other places that have very high concentrations of blacks. Their typical destination is not a multiethnic neighborhood. The same is even more true for whites."

People live in towns with people similar to them, which only promotes further segregation of not only neighborhoods, but public schools as well. African Americans possibly only feel comfortable in minority neighborhoods because of America's negative portrayal of them in the past. The discrepancy of income and the desire to be with similar people create a large amount of residential segregation, which ultimately contributes to a large amount of public school segregation.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Claire,
    I agree with a lot of what was said in your blog. I was under the impression that the segregation in schools was because of income inequality between races and also "self segregation" where people move to areas where there are large concentrations of similar races. However, I have no idea whether we should change this trend of school "segregation" or if its even possible to change it. But, I don't think that "segregation" is the problem. I think that income inequality is the real problem. Income inequality basically takes away the possibility of moving to other non-segregated places. There's nothing wrong with wanting to live near similar people, but when your income forces you to stay in segregated areas, that's a real problem.