Desegregating Schools: Housing Is Central to the Equation | Teachers College Columbia University

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Desegregating Schools: Housing Is Central to the Equation

A new report by Amy Stuart Wells, TC Professor of Sociology & Education, argues that as more blacks, Latinos and Asians move to the suburbs and more whites gentrify the cities their parents and grandparents fled decades ago, the United States has a unique opportunity to address the historically "tight relationship" between racially segregated and unequal housing and schools.

In a report titled Diverse Housing, Diverse Schooling: How Policy Can Stabilize Racial Demographic Change in Cities and Suburbs, written for the National Education Policy Center, Wells covers three key areas of social science research: the nature of the housing-school nexus, the impact of school desegregation and housing integration policies on the nexus, and implicit racial biases as they relate to school and housing choices. She then lays out a three-point program for change, arguing that:

  • Policymakers should embrace and capitalize on changing racial attitudes in the U.S., particularly among the younger generations, to promote and stabilize diverse communities and public schools.
  • Policymakers must consider how current accountability policies in the field of education exacerbate segregation and inequality.
  • Local leaders and their constituents must embrace the new demographics of their communities and promote them as places forward-thinking people want to “be” and not “flee” in the suburban context. Meanwhile, sustainable and affordable housing and school enrollment policies must support diversity in gentrifying urban neighborhoods. In both contexts, stable and diverse communities and their schools must be sustained.


Published Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

Amy Stuart Wells
Amy Stuart Wells, Professor of Sociology & Education