Suburban School Policy |
Sociology 4560 |
Deosia Miller |
A recent paper I wrote for this class led me to choose suburban school policy as my midterm paper. As I read about rising poverty, it made me think of the students in these suburbs and how they are affected by the economic shifts taking place.
I found that suburban school policy has undergone changes as the demographic of the communities schools change. I was also found that other policy was indirectly responsible for some of the problems America’s suburbs are currently facing.
Two top news stories in August – the tragedy in suburban Ferguson, Missouri, and the end of the ...view middle of the document...
But over the last decade many low-income families have also been leaving deteriorating high-poverty neighborhoods in central cities in search of better job opportunities, neighborhoods, and schools and consequently found themselves settled in new pockets of poverty in the suburbs. The decline in concentrated poverty varied across metropolitan areas as many poor households shifted from inner-city neighborhoods to outer-ring suburban areas. And poverty rates drastically increased in some suburban tracts as low-income families resettled outside of cities.
In these processes, once all-white suburbs change as more blacks or Hispanics move in and white residents leave. In suburbs across the country, we see this 21st Century version of “white flight” leading to a declining tax base. These changing demographics reflects our nation’s K-12 public school population – now more than 50 percent “minority” –and implies that suburban public schools will be the front line of these changes moving forward.
Amy Stuart Wells and Douglas Ready report in their groundbreaking publication “Divided We Fall” their findings during research in some of America’s suburbs:
. We analyzed statistical, survey and interview data over five years. We documented mounting anxiety about the future of American suburbs and their public schools. Our conclusions apply to other suburban counties across the country, particularly those in the Northeast and Midwest, where suburbs and their school districts are smaller and more divided. Thus, in metro areas like New York and St. Louis, the main obstacles suburbs face include:
* Ongoing racially and ethnically segregated housing patterns that negatively affect property values in communities becoming increasing diverse
* Fragmented and divided municipalities and school districts, making it easier for patterns of racial distinction to emerge and evolve into material (tangible) and reputational (intangible) inequalities
* A public school funding formula that makes each small suburban school district “tubs on their own bottoms,” heavily reliant on “local” sources of funding, namely property taxes.
This means that public school resources and reputations are spread unevenly across separate and unequal suburban school districts, even as small and autonomous suburbs face mounting pressures to sustain themselves economically. It also means that once predominantly white and middle-class communities and their public schools begin to change demographically, absent a concerted effort to stabilize the housing market and public schools, a downward fiscal and educational spiral can ensue. First, the “perception” of the school districts change, and home buyers and realtors begin talking about these communities as “less desirable” – even when tangible measures such as test scores and course offerings are the same. The major assumption is that a minority student base will result in lower standardized scores for the district.
This leads to a...