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Education policy is constrained by housing policy: it is not possible to desegregate schools without desegregating both low-income and affluent neighborhoods.
However, the policy motivation to desegregate neighborhoods is hobbled by a growing ignorance of the nation’s racial history.
Children from poor neighborhoods whose mothers also grew up in poor neighborhoods score lower, an average of 96.
But for African American students living in the ghettos of large cities, far distant from middle class suburbs, the racial isolation of their schools cannot be remedied without undoing the racial isolation of the neighborhoods in which they are located. In 2007, the Supreme Court made integration even more difficult than it already was, when the Court prohibited the Louisville and Seattle school districts from making racial balance a factor in assigning students to schools, in situations where applicant numbers exceeded available seats (2007).
The plurality opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts decreed that student categorization by race (for purposes of administering a choice program) is unconstitutional unless it is designed to reverse effects of explicit rules that segregated students by race.
Schools that the most disadvantaged black children attend are segregated because they are located in segregated high-poverty neighborhoods, far distant from truly middle-class neighborhoods.
Living in such high-poverty neighborhoods for multiple generations adds an additional barrier to achievement, and multigenerational segregated poverty characterizes many African American children today.
In such a neighborhood, many, if not most other residents are likely to have very low incomes, although not so low as to be below the official poverty line. What’s more, for black families, mobility out of such neighborhoods is much more limited than for whites.