School boundaries carry on ‘legacy of redlining’

Racist housing maps from the 1930s and ‘40s are still having an impact by way of today’s segregated school attendance zones, according to a new study from the Urban Institute.

The “Dividing Lines” study finds that school attendance areas often align with “redlining” maps from the Home Owners’ Loan Corp., a New Deal home-buying program. Black neighborhoods were marked in red on the maps to indicate they were not a good risk for buyers and lenders.

“This evidence suggests that many of the racially unequal school boundaries in our data are direct vestiges of our cities’ historic roots of explicit racism, not just an artifact of recent individual household choices,” write study authors Tomas Monarrez and Carina Chien.

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Polls shows faith in public schools

If ever there was a time for parents and the American public to turn against public schools, you’d think this would be it. But two recent polls show it hasn’t happened.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted schooling for a year and a half, forcing children to learn online. Schools have been under relentless attack for requiring masks and teaching about racism. State legislators have bashed public schools as they pushed to expand school choice.

But the polls, by PDK International and Education Next, show continued strong support for and satisfaction with local public schools, both from parents and the public. This continues a longstanding trend in which respondents are critical of the nation’s schools but give local schools high marks.

PDK International, also known as Phi Delta Kappa, is an organization of educators that tends to favor public schools. Education Next, a journal committed to “bold change,” tends to be critical of public schools. Both polls, conducted in May, June and July, produced similar findings.

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White students are declining in Indiana schools

I wrote this week that Indiana schools have become more racially and ethnically diverse in the past 10 years. One reason is that they enroll more students of color, but it’s also true that the number of white students has decreased – by quite a lot.

White enrollment in the state’s public and charter schools declined by 11% between 2010-11 and 2020-21, according to Indiana Department of Education data. Total enrollment held steady, thanks to increases in Asian, multiracial and, especially, Hispanic students.

Indiana is still a predominantly white state, but its white population is aging. According to census data provided by the Indiana Business Research Center, only 20.6% of the white population was under age 18 in 2020, compared to 32.3% of the nonwhite population.

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