How segregated is your school district?

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

Vox reported earlier this month on two recent studies that find most school districts draw attendance zones that "are gerrymandered to put white students in classrooms that are even whiter than the communities they live in. The result, they say, is that schools today are re-segregating.

"In America, there is already a massive amount of residential segregation, shaped by a long history of racist government policies," Vox reports. "This is why everyone going to the nearest school perpetuates very segregated classrooms. But using school zones, we can actually gerrymander these lines so we're not recreating the underlying segregation."

The fascinating thing about this article, beyond the fact that it spotlights cutting-edge research on school segregation, is that it uses 2013 data from one of those studies to "show you what your district would look like if everyone went to the nearest school. Using that baseline, we'll show you whether or not your district reduces segregation — or exacerbates it."

So how did Oak Park Elementary Schools District 97 and River Forest Elementary Schools District 90 fare in the Vox analysis (which didn't seem to include high school districts)?

Vox concluded, according to the data they used, that the "first thing you'll notice about Oak Park ESD 97 is segregation between attendance zones" and that the district recreates "the segregation in the underlying area." But not by much.

What about D90?

"The first thing you'll notice about River Forest SD 90 is the small number of black and Hispanic residents in the entire district," the data tells us. That said, D90 "draws attendance zones in a way that lessens the amount of segregation that already exists in the underlying neighborhoods." And by quite a lot apparently.

You can take a deeper look at the Vox report and the underlying data and academic studies it used in its analysis here.

— Michael Romain 


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Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 25th, 2018 4:22 PM

Interesting web site. It doesn't look like D97 is doing anything wrong or that impacts people in a bad way. We used to live at a corner house right on the exact border of 4 of the zones so kids from the local neighborhood went in four different directions to different schools. No big deal or problem for anyone and they all end up in the same High School eventually.

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