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Segregation index in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, 1950-2010

Segregation index in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, 1950-2010

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We examine whether the legal decision to grant unitary status to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district, which led to the end of race-conscious student assignment policies, increased the probability that families with children enrolled in the district would move to neighborhoods with a greater proportion of student residents of the same race as...

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... index ranges from 0, indicating that all schools or neighborhoods have non-white enrollment proportional to the overall demographics of the district, to 1, indicating complete segregation of white students and non-white students. 3 Figure 1, reproduced from Clotfelter's After Brown and supplemented with our own calculations, indicates that prior to the Brown decision in 1954, the CMS schools were entirely segregated, with a segregation index of 1. In 1970, the year before the Supreme Court decided Swann, the segregation index had only fallen to 0.63. ...

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... Scholars have shown evidence of white flight to charter schools, magnet schools and other school choice programs, thus increasing the concentration of poor and minority students in local public schools (Allison and Wells 2013;Frankenberg and Kotok 2013;Mann and Baker 2019;McDermott et al. 2003;Renzulli and Evans 2005;Smrekar and Honey 2015;Zhang and Cowen 2009). For example, Liebowitz and Page (2014) analyze household-level data following the end of a desegregation plan in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, a county-wide school district in North Carolina that is well known for its reversal from desegregation to a traditional neighborhood school system in 2005. These authors find that white parents are more inclined to choose homogeneously white neighborhoods when they exercise school choice by residential relocation, thus providing new evidence for the preference theory. ...
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... Nechyba (2003) showed that the avail-abil ity of a pri vate school mar ket reduces res i den tial income seg re ga tion, whereas Brunner et al. (2012) showed that inter dis trict enroll ment pro grams affect hous ing val ues near school dis trict bound aries. Conversely, when a neigh bor hood-school link is strength ened-as in North Carolina after man da tory deseg re ga tion plans expiredres i den tial seg re ga tion increases because res i den tial loca tion is once again very conse quen tial for school enroll ment (Liebowitz 2018;Liebowitz and Page 2014). ...
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... These school attendance boundary decisions can fuel both school and residential segregation. For example, if a school district zones a subsidized housing property to a racially isolated and/or low-income school, these decisions can worsen not only school segregation, but also fuel segregation in neighborhoods around affordable housing properties, as white and middle-class families often seek to avoid housing near such schools (Holme, 2002;Lareau & Goyette, 2014;Liebowitz & Page, 2014). 5 ...
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... That is, it is possible that families make residential location decisions under the socioeconomicbased assignment policy that differ from the locational decisions they would have made in the absence of the policy. Work leveraging a court decision releasing the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district from their desegregation order provides some evidence of such behavior (Liebowitz & Page, 2014). The study indicates that, after the district was released from the courtordered desegregation plan, White families who moved were substantially more likely to relocate to a neighborhood with a greater proportion of White residence than their prior neighborhood, compared with White families' relocation patterns under the desegregation order. ...
... Under this scenario, our analysis would overestimate the difference in racial/ethnic segregation between the counterfactual neighborhood schools and the observed schools of attendance. On the other hand, and perhaps more likely given the findings of Liebowitz and Page (2014), is the possibility that the socioeconomic-based school assignment policy affected locational decisions in a manner that led to lower levels of residential segregation, compared with a residence-based assignment policy. The lack of certainty regarding the connection between families' residential location and their assigned school may have resulted in them making decisions on the basis of other factors, such as employment location, that serve to decrease residential segregation. ...
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... Test score rankings in the accountability era have potentially made the distinction between " good " and " bad " schools more visible and tangible, and in light of the test score gap between disadvantaged minorities and Whites, accountability may compel increased segregation as higher SES White families potentially utilize testing results to avoid lower performing and in turn, high minority schools (Boger 2002;Wells and Holme 2005;Hastings, Kane, and Staiger 2007;Hastings and Weinstein 2008;Schneider and Buckley 2002). Research which examines the school choice process more generally finds that higher income parents or parents of higher scoring students tend to use test score performance, alone or in combination with information on school demographics like racial composition, as the basis for judging school quality (Schneider and Buckley 2002;Hastings, Kane, and Staiger 2007;Hasting and Weinstein 2008;Liebowitz and Page 2014). Liebowitz andPage (2014)find that academic quality matters more than racial composition for families with high scoring students while racial composition appears to matter more for families with average students. ...
... Research which examines the school choice process more generally finds that higher income parents or parents of higher scoring students tend to use test score performance, alone or in combination with information on school demographics like racial composition, as the basis for judging school quality (Schneider and Buckley 2002;Hastings, Kane, and Staiger 2007;Hasting and Weinstein 2008;Liebowitz and Page 2014). Liebowitz andPage (2014)find that academic quality matters more than racial composition for families with high scoring students while racial composition appears to matter more for families with average students. However, other research finds that school academic performance has a significant impact on school selection independent of racial composition (Saporito 2003; Schneider and Buckley 2002).Saporito (2003)found that Philadelphia parents used test scores as well as racial demographics and poverty levels to gauge the suitability of magnet schools for their children. ...
... This is certainly a testable proposition, and would only require individual-level data, though it is not clear whether data of this nature currently exists. Test scores may not always be the central criterion for choice of school, and research is mixed with regard to the role of test scores on school selection (Holme 2002;Lareau 2014;Liebowitz and Page 2014;Saporito 2003;Schneider and Buckley 2002;Weininger 2014). However, our results suggest that accountability policies have a robust effect on segregation, one that does not dissipate after accounting for many other factors. ...
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Although a great deal of research has examined the impact of accountability on a number of different outcomes, particularly achievement, little research to date has assessed the impact of school accountability reform on racial segregation in schools. Using school, district, and state-level data from the Common Core of Data from 1987 to 2010 and data on school accountability from other sources, we examine black-white within-district segregation before and after the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2002. We find that NCLB was associated with significant increases in black-white segregation within school districts, even after controlling for other factors that might have led to increased segregation (e.g., release from court-ordered segregation, recent Supreme Court decisions). This effect was especially pronounced among districts in states that had implemented school accountability policies prior to NCLB. Our results lead us to conclude that policymakers must also consider the negative unintended consequences of education reform policies, even those designed to have an ameliorative impact on inequality.
... While those two competing preferences do not necessarily align, it is important to understand that the same inclinations can shift-and are more likely to do so when groups gain exposure to one another (Mickelson, 2011;Wells & Crain, 1994). Yet, even though schools would be a natural place for such exposure to occur, both quantitative and qualitative studies continue to underscore the fundamental roles that race and class play in school choice processes among white and advantaged families (Holme, 2002;Liebowitz & Page, 2011). These families typically use informal networks to pass along information about desirable schools, and more often than not the demographic makeup of a school setting carries more weight than actual indicators of school quality (Holme, 2002). ...
... The +/-15 percent standard has been widely used in desegregation orders throughout the South (e.g., Capacchione v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, 1999); it is also a metric found in studies examining school segregation (Borman et al., 2004;Mickelson, 2001;Valencia, 2000). The decision to use the proportion of white students in each zone as the anchor for the +/-15 percent band was driven by the role that race plays in the school choice process for white families, documented in both the literature (Holme, 2002;Liebowitz & Page, 2011) and several blog entries from the Henrico County community. According to ACS data, white high school students constituted 50 percent of Henrico County's population (see table 2), thus an imbalanced zone was defined as less than 35 percent white or more than 65 percent white. ...
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In this article, Genevieve Siegel-Hawley illuminates the challenges and opportunities posed by demographic change in suburban school systems. As expanding student populations stretch the enrollment capacities of existing schools in suburban communities, new schools are built and attendance lines are redrawn. This redistricting process can be used either to foster school diversity or to exacerbate racial isolation. Drawing on data from the U.S. Census, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and the school district, along with mapping software from Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Siegel-Hawley examines the relationship between overcrowding, racial isolation, and the original, proposed, and final high school attendance zones in a changing suburban district. Findings indicate that school officials responsible for the rezoning process failed to embrace the growing diversity of the school system, choosing instead to solidify extreme patterns of racial isolation within high school attendance areas. The segregative impact of the district's new attendance zones may be subject to legal scrutiny, a consequence that could - and should - discourage other school systems from adopting similarly harmful redistricting policies. Copyright © by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.
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Purpose: This article examines the relationship between educational and residential segregation in three school districts with differing approaches to student assignment. Racial and income segregation within school districts is often only examined at the school level, even as school patterns are often related to residential and attendance zone segregation depending on integration policies aimed at decoupling these relationships. Research Method/Approach: Using an innovative data set, the School Attendance Boundary Survey, along with Census and Common Core of Data data, this analysis examines racial and income segregation at the neighborhood, school zone, and school levels in three districts with varied student assignment policies to explore the relationship between districts’ diversity policies and school, attendance zone, and residential segregation. Findings: We find that, despite high residential segregation, educational segregation varies in these three districts. In the two districts that sought to increase diversity in their student assignment policies, educational segregation was lower than in the third district that did not consider diversity, despite similar levels of residential segregation. The findings suggest that district leaders’ use of diversity-focused student assignment policies may be one way to disrupt the link between residential and school segregation. Conclusions: Understanding the segregation of educational boundaries within school districts, and the relationship between school zone segregation and segregation at other geographic scales, offers insights into how district leaders could utilize student assignment policies to reduce racial and income segregation.