Students in racially and socioeconomically integrated schools experience academic, cognitive, and social benefits that are not available to students in racially isolated, high-poverty environments. A large body of research going back five decades underscores the improved experiences that integrated schools provide. And yet, more than sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, American public schools are still highly segregated by both race and class. In fact, by most measures of integration, our public schools are worse off, since they are now even more racially segregated than they were in the 1970s, and economic segregation in schools has risen dramatically over the past two decades.
In this report, we highlight the work that school districts and charter schools across the country are doing to promote socioeconomic and racial integration by considering socioeconomic factors in student assignment policies.
Key findings of this report include:
- Our research has identified a total of 91 districts and charter networks across the country that use socioeconomic status as a factor in student assignment.
- The 91 school districts and charter schools with socioeconomic integration policies enroll over 4 million students.
- The school districts and charter networks identified as employing socioeconomic integration are located in 32 different states.
- The majority of districts and charters on the list have racially and socioeconomically diverse enrollments.
- The majority of the integration strategies observed fall into five main categories: attendance zone boundaries, district-wide choice policies, magnet school admissions, charter school admissions, and transfer policies.
The push toward socioeconomic and racial integration is perhaps the most important challenge facing American public schools. Segregation impedes the ability of children to prepare for an increasingly diverse workforce; to function tolerantly and enthusiastically in a globalizing society; to lead, follow, and communicate with a wide variety of consumers, colleagues, and friends. The democratic principles of this nation are impossible to reach without universal access to a diverse, high quality, and engaging education.