ITP | Access denied: The effect of geographic boundaries on White-Black gaps in access to educational opportunity

September 17, 2021, 12-1:30 pm Central Time

259 Educational Sciences

Dr. Peter Rich

Assistant Professor, Cornell University

Dr. Peter Rich

Nationwide, nearly 13,000 school districts manage the delivery of public education to their local communities. “Local community,” however, is an imprecise construct. Eight percent of all elementary school-aged children are unable to attend the school closest to their home because it is located outside of their locally zoned residential school district. The spatial discontinuities produced by educational boundaries not only increase school commute times, but in some cases exacerbate unequal access to opportunity. This occurs most often in areas where small, suburban school districts encircle large, citywide school districts. Decades of household sorting have created stark economic and social differences between some bordering school districts—generating a patchwork of territorial school district “fiefdoms.”