But the conventional wisdom of contemporary education policy notwithstanding, segregated schools with poorly performing students cannot be “turned around” while remaining racially isolated.
And the racial isolation of schools cannot be remedied without undoing the racial isolation of the neighborhoods in which they are located. The Myth of De Facto Segregation In 2007, the Supreme Court made integration more difficult when it prohibited the Louisville and Seattle school districts from making racial balance a factor in assigning students to schools, in cases where applicant numbers exceeded available seats.
It is generally accepted today, even by sophisticated policymakers, that black students’ racial isolation is now de facto, not only in Louisville and Seattle, but in all metropolitan areas, North and South.
Even the liberal dissenters in the Louisville-Seattle case, led by Justice Stephen Breyer, agreed with this characterization.
In such a neighborhood, many, if not most other residents are likely to have very low incomes, although not so low as to be below the official poverty line.
Considering all black families, 48 percent have lived in poor neighborhoods over at least two generations, compared to 7 percent of white families.
If a child grows up in a poor neighborhood, moving up and out to a middle-class area is typical for whites but an aberration for blacks.
We cannot desegregate schools without desegregating these neighborhoods, and our ability to desegregate the neighborhoods in which segregated schools are located is hobbled by historical ignorance.
Too quickly forgetting twentieth century history, we’ve persuaded ourselves that the residential isolation of low-income black children is only “de facto,” the accident of economic circumstance, personal preference, and private discrimination.
Although immigrant low-income Hispanic students are also concentrated in schools, by the third generation their families are more likely to settle in more middle-class neighborhoods.