"Hope for Integration?"
Richard Kahlenberg responds on the school integration issue with several points, including most notably that (a) many poor students aren’t in big city schools, and (b) school district boundaries are created by state legislatures not by God.
On point (a), I’d need to see more information. Point (a) is well-taken. I’d need to see a more detailed analysis, though, to really understand how much good playing around with district lines can do. It’s one thing to fold Raleigh’s school district into a larger Wake County district, and another thing entirely to try that with a large city like New York or Chicago. But obviously to observe that there are limits to where integration policies are going to be feasible isn’t to say that they shouldn’t be implemented where they are feasible. But I don’t want to see the DC government sit on its hands and wait for congress to work out some scheme to work out a way for our kids to go to school in Virginia or Maryland in lieu of trying to figure out what we can do to improve DCPS performance.
To step back from this a little, though, it’s worth noting a substantial housing and urban policy issue here. Many large cities combine substantial concentrations of poverty with neighborhoods where housing is so expensive that families can’t afford to live there. Here’s a nice family-sized rowhouse near where I live but you need $700,000 to buy it amidst a nationwise real estate bust. If we built more housing units in our non-basketcase cities, more middle class families might live in them which would greatly facilitate economic integration in schools.