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21st Century Educational Apartheid Differentiating Equity from Diversity in the US Public School System

A Mellon-Funded Urban Humanities Initiative by Christine Doherty

The Divided City is a joint project of the Center for the Humanities and the College and Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design at Washington University in St. Louis. The goal is to place humanities scholars into productive interdisciplinary dialogue with architects, urban designers, sociologists, and others around one of the most persistent and vexing issues in urban studies: segregation. In the summer of 2017, Christine Doherty was one of nine students chosen to conduct research on urban segregation for the Center for Humanities in partnership with the College and Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design. This book is a compilation of the work completed.

Christine Doherty, MArch + MUD 2019 Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts Washington University in St. Louis 2017 Graduate Dissertation Research Fellow

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world� Nelson Mandela


the premise project abstract




three cities


systemic racism segregation in the US


the damage




patterned consequence


need for change educational desegregation




program types


the growing issue


closeup school demographics


hartford connecticut


district of columbia


saint louis missouri


conclusions desegregation is not equity


a new system


patterns of engagement




the premise Inter-school exchange programs are a temporary solution to the persisting problem that segregated schools are an immediate result of segregated neighborhoods.

project abstract Over six decades have passed since the landmark decision Brown vs. Board of Education overruled the doctrine of separate but equal in the realm of public education, but segregated schools remain a fact of the US school system. After Brown, de jure and de facto integration became a priority for many school districts across the US. From 1968 to 1980 alone there was a 67% increase in the average percentage of blacks’ schoolmates who are white in the country overall. Many of these plans for desegregation were intentionally temporary, but as results were analyzed in terms of socio-economic and racial diversity, plans were extended. The National Assessment of Educational Progress report in 2006 proved diverse schools not only lessen the achievement gap between white and black students, but provide a broader range of curriculum and benefit overall school performance. For these results districts continued de jure desegregation and selective schools flourished. Yet a US Government Accountability Office (GAO) study done in 2016 shows in the past two decades both the percentage of K-12 public schools in high-poverty and the percentage comprised of mostly black or Hispanic students grew significantly from 7,009 schools to 15,089 schools, and the percentage of all schools with a racial or socio-economic isolation grew from 9% to 15%.

top performing school districts half mile radius


us ur b



Westchester Elementary School

Cole Elementary School

12 / 865 Missouri Elementary Schools 15% Black 12% Free Lunch

848 / 865 Missouri Elementary Schools 90% Black 100% Free Lunch

Many cities, including St. Louis, had a successful run with bus transferring programs between schools and districts, even after a history of racist urban planning. Yet a school transfer program will not fix the apparent segregation still visible in city neighborhoods. 3

purpose Despite decades of trial and error of school transfer programs, many school districts continue to search for a perpetual, feasible system for socio-economic and racial diversity in their public schools. Transferring students to achieve these ideals is unsustainable because it devalues communities by removing a valuable resource, nor does it not respond to the issue of residential segregation. This document aims to analyze the spatial and temporal aspects of certain school districts in order to discover the specific dynamics that can be utilized in a sustainable community-based education system. Diversity in schools does not necessarily equate to a balanced or quality education. The purpose of analyzing school de-segregation programs is to give equity to city schools without transferring students. The current education disparity at the college level is a direct and ongoing result of racial inequality manifested through federal public policy and city planning. Prioritizing equal access to education at an early age can break these unfair patterns and introduce equity to American city school systems.

City Garden Montessori School in St. Louis

Private versus Public This report is not a criticism on inter-school and inter-district transfer programs. De jure desegregation has benefited many students across the US, nearly four million according to The Century Foundation. Nor is this report meant to give preference to public schools over private institutions. Every city and school district has its specific dynamics to afford successes, as well as failures, in terms of the quality of education given to all children. Inter-school and inter-district transfer programs offer different strategies which may or may not include a private education. The quality of education between the two varies based on amount of resources, funding, policy makers, and myriad other factors. The cities chosen for this report are based on information given by public school systems and the cities themselves, which are analyzed based on dependent variables. 4

the housing issue The primary need for de-segregation stemmed from obvious de facto segregation in city neighborhoods. This report also briefly explains the premise of segregated neighborhoods, which began from racist federal laws and urban policies. Only by understanding the damage in creating a society built on systemic racism can cities answer to their current issues in education. As a regional system, similar to transportation, an equitable and quality system of education cannot be answered without addressing disenfranchised neighborhoods within these cities.

HOLC Redlining map of St. Louis demarkating where morgages and other financial assistance was aavailable for home ownership.


three cities The cities of Hartford, District of Columbia, and Saint Louis were chosen for the specific dynamics involved in their de-segregation programs. Similar to many cities across the US, they were victim to racist urban planning which led to the apparent separation today, but the evolution of each city is what caused outcome variations in their school districts.


Hartford CT

District of Columbia



The Greater Hartford School District holds the largest program in the country, based on magnet schools and transfer policies. While successful in many aspects, the program has essentially gotten so large it cannot fold, and therefore maintaining the class disparity between city and suburb.

Washington DC has a reputa isolated schools, and its contro further widening the gap betw within a neighborhood.

ation for low-quality, raciallyolled school choice program is ween school achievement even

white population black population % of bachelor’s degrees

Saint Louis MO

Tenability Saint Louis began an inter-district bus transfer program in the 1980 which has had quite a successful run, but has failed to address the red lining still visible in its neighborhoods. Now that the program is coming to a close, the city needs a practical system for community resilience.


systemic racism Systemic racism is composed of intersecting and codependent racist institutions, policies, practices, and ideas that give an unjust amount of resources, rights, and power to white people while denying them to people of color.

segregation in the US Systemic racism is a concept only recently understood but has been a harsh reality for many Americans in the past centuries. While the US Constitution defined all men as "created equal" in 1787, the prolonged legal recognition of racialized slavery was the cornerstone of the racist social system that every American abides by today. Despite the abolition of slavery in 1863, racist practices were already so embedded into social norms that one act of supposed “freedom” could not redeem. As a result, African Americans faced numerous challenges which all led to economic and social inequality. Different from systemic, institutional racism is less overt than individual racism, but has a far greater effect because it impacts regular access to deserved services. In the US, institutional racism can be seen in housing, healthcare, criminal conviction, civil services, political representation, and education. The current undeserved impoverishment and inequality was largely perpetuated by completely unethical racist policies in the twentieth century to separate physically whites from people of color in residential segregation. Redlining was the practice of financial institutions barring residents in predominately minority neighborhoods from financial services such as mortgages, insurance, or any type of moneylending. It also involved the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation (HOLC) drawing a red line around certain areas of a city deemed to be not “credit worthy.” Of course housing discrimination did not begin with the HOLC in the 1930s, but the maps created only legally allowed racial bias. In many instances, they were merely a reflection of discrimination already taking place based on housing quality. Yet because of the HOLC, people of color remained isolated urban environments and unable to invest in property with their white neighbors.

first grade second grade third grade

St. Louis 1937

fourth grade




the damage As a result, many American cities remained segregated for the decades to come. Real estate tactics such as steering, blockbusting, and inflated prices left many, but not all, people of color in isolated neighborhoods for the remains of the twentieth century. In turn, not only were races physically separated by housing, but the relegation of blacks in the US became commonplace in nearly every other institution as well. Neighborhood disinvestment became apparent with the systematic withdraw of capital and neglect of public services by the city. When the city begins to neglect its residents, local businesses also tend to leave the neighborhood to follow the affluent communities. Many city neighborhoods lack of proper amenities like pharmacies, healthy food options, communal spaces, and most importantly, quality education.

tenure Without the ability to own property, chances for investment (personal or community) decrease, as homeownership is a proven wealth builder. Redlining was not the only issue barring individuals from a right to prosperity--the G. I. Bill in 1948, which strongly influenced national homeownership trends today, was acquiesced by adamantly blocking non-whites from this new ladder of opportunity. Even come 1968, when redlining was outlawed, the consequences of twentieth century racism proved profound. As Ira Katznelson states in his book, When Affirmative Action was White: “By 1984, when G. I. Bill mortgages had mainly matured, the median white household had a net worth of $39,135; the comparable figure for black households was only $3,397, or just 9 percent of white holdings. Most of this difference was accounted for by the absence of homeownership.� household homeownership rates by race

white hispanic black


conflicting policy For these reasons and more, racial and socio-economic disparity have been considered complementary social issues. While Martin Luther King Jr. is notable for the Civil Rights Act in 1964 as an instigator to social justice in many forms, myriad challenges presented themselves in the remaining decades of the century. In fact, much of the twentieth century was series of conflicting policies and acts in regards to social justice, ranging from racial covenants to anti-affirmative action processes. As a result, the differentiation between de jure and de facto segregation or integration was first introduced, despite the end of all legally enforced segregation in the 1960s. But already were blacks limited to urban centers, and without similar economic opportunities, the black urban underclass was created. As Douglass Massey summarizes in his book American Apartheid, a lack of spatial mobility leads to a lack of social mobility, and as such, the economic success of blacks (and other minorities for that matter) in the United States never equaled that of whites. As far as education, national studies in the 1970s proved minority students in concentrated poverty schools had lower achievement rates and less access to the resources their white, suburban counterparts had. While segregation was officially illegal, this decade brought the first call to action to bring equity to city schools, beginning with diversity.

median household income by race

white hispanic black


timeline comparison

the good Buchanan v. Warley

Brown v. Board of Educatio

Kentucky residential segregation was unconstitutional but ruling was on property rights.

Separate public schools for wh and black children is ruled unc stitutional.

Shelley v. Kraemer Courts cannot enforce racial covenants on real estate.

Civil Rights of 1964

Discrimination based on race, color, religion or sex is outlawed


1934 1917



Housing Act of 1934 Plessy v. Ferguson US Supreme Court case that upheld state racial segregation laws for public facilities under the doctrine of “separate but equal.” Jim Crow Laws

the bad


Home Owner’s Loan Corporation introduced mortgage discrimination and redlining minority neighborhoods.

G. I. Bill A law that provides a range of benefits to WWII veterans yet was interpreted differently for any non-white who tried to access these resources.

Swann vs. Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education


hite con-

Green vs. New Kent County School Board Supreme Court identifies factors to mandate public school’s compliance with Brown.

Court approves busing, magnet schools, and other tools as appropriate remedies to overcome the role of residential segregation

School Integration reaches all-time high

Riddick v. School Board of the City of Norfolk


About 45% of black children are in majoritywhite schools.

Once a school district meets Green standards, it can be released to local control.

d n, d.

1974 1968


1978 1986


Milikin vs. Bradley Stopped busing unless there were deliberate attempts to re-segregate.

Nixon’s Fair Housing Policy Undermined HUD’s attempts at equal opportunity housing, stating that “forced integration of housing is just as wrong as segregation.”

University of California v. Baak Ruled that a white student had been discriminated against because of too much affirmative action.


patterned consequence Poverty Rate white population


black population asian population hispanic population




60% | 40%

82% |18%

54% |46%

79% |21%

below basic performance

Student Achievement Rate


Median Net Worth excluding equity in own home





usa race ratio




43.0% | 43.7%

22.4% | 30.5%

52.3% | 56.5%

14.1% | 14.2% Parents with Bachelor Degrees


a need for change Double Segregation: an overlapping phenomena of socioeconomic and racial segregation as the result of sequestering minorities together and purposefully limiting their social mobility.

educational desegregation After Brown v, Board of Education declared racial segregation in public schools as unconstitutional, the process of integrating schools was met with plenty of resistance. The decision was an attempt to rectify the relationship between racism and the life chances of black children, but gave no specific direction on how to do so. In ruling that school segregation was inherently unequal, the Warren court actually condemned the cause of school inequality: racism. Segregation purposefully reinforced white over-representation in institutions as varied as city councils and corporate boardrooms, but simply replacing white members with their black counterparts does not give justice. By 1960, 43% of black families lived in poverty, only two of five blacks earned high school diplomas, and a black college graduate earned less than a white person with eight years of education. The 1954 decision eventually became a referendum on the ideological underpinnings and fortitude of American racism, and gave rise to an unparalleled exodus--white flight. Through the rise of suburbia and the persistent impoverishment of urban education, school districts across the US saw a need to consistently desegregate their public schools. In the past six decades, school districts have created integration policies that typically addressed de jure segregation, but not de facto segregation. Currently, the school districts and charters employing racial and socioeconomic integration efforts are located in nearly every state. The states with the greatest number of districts and charters are in California, Florida, North Carolina, New York, and Minnesota. Correspondingly, these same states also hold some of the country's most segregated cities. The strategies each district uses varies based on policy and context, but the majority fall into five main categories. The success and development of each strategy is dependent on these variables.

detroit income under $50,000 1%


detroit racial segregation white population

black population

Detroit, Michigan has notoriously been the country's most racially divided city for decades. Not coincidentally, Detroit is also one of the most economically segregated cities and in apparent need to de-segregate its education system. 19

racial and economic disparity Racial segregation is the physical separation based on race in a city, whether it be by individual preference or the regulated impact of urban policy decades before. Economic segregation refers to the degree to which people in different social classes live mostly among other people of their class. Greater economic disparity occurs in larger cities, mostly because people in a higher income bracket live outside the city limits. While not always overlapping, both issues play a role in the education system.

San Francisco CA

San Jose CA


% white population % black population racial segregation economic segregation

2 |Chicago IL

1 |Detroit MI

5|Cleveland OH

6 |Buffalo NY

Bridgeport CT

Indianapolis IN

7 |Baltimore MD

Kansas City MO

8 |St. Louis MO

4 |Memphis TN Charlotte NC

3 |Jackson MS


program types While efforts to address racial and socioeconomic segregation have typically been began shortly after Brown vs. Board of Education, the US public school system of 2017 is facing the same issues as the education system fifty years ago. Because of double segregation, many school districts are isolated in their entirety, with high levels of poverty and racial homogeneity. Just by balancing enrollment will still leave schools with low levels of racial diversity and high levels of poverty. Creating racially diverse, economically mixed schools in these districts typically requires using inter-district enrollment strategies or focusing integration efforts on particular neighborhoods or schools with the greatest potential for reaching diversity goals.

attendance zone boundaries Re-drawing attendance zone boundaries has become the most common method of socioeconomic and racial diversity because it most easily fits with existing enrollment protocols. This strategy also has the potential to affect all schools in the district—particularly if a school board adopts a resolution to make socioeconomic balance a consideration in all redistricting decisions moving forward. However, the major limitation is the need to constantly re-examine the districts in terms of ideal diversity. School boundaries usually need to be readjusted regularly as populations and demographics shift in response to housing patterns and individual preference. School boundary decisions are also almost always politically contentious. Families frequently buy or rent homes with particular schools in mind and may object to changes in school assignment that they view as forced. The rezoning process can be challenging even when integration is not a consideration.

magnet school admissions A number of school districts also contain magnet schools that specifically consider socioeconomic diversity in admissions. Today, the term magnet school is used to describe a wide variety of schools with particular themes and choice-based admissions, drawing students from across a geographic area. Admissions could be based on the idea of drawing the brightest students together, based on academic criteria, but many magnet schools were started for the purpose of de-segregation. By selectively enrolling students from across districts and economically-diverse neighborhoods, magnet schools with a priority to diversify their student body are able to do so. Yet magnet schools that do not have an admissions process that prioritizes diversity have lesser ability to create substantial increases in a school’s socioeconomic diversity. Typically, these schools function with the premise of academic achievement (regardless of race or class) as prerogative.


school choice policy Controlled choice programs are the other major strategy because their effectiveness remains even if demographics shift. In the best examples of these equitable choice programs, districts shift entirely away from student assignment based on geographic zones to a system in which all families rank their choices of schools from across the district (or within a certain geographic area in larger districts). Schools implement magnet schools or themed programs, giving families a reason to select schools outside of their neighborhoods based on pedagogy or course offerings. Some families might still place the greatest priority on a school within walking distance, whereas others might be happy to travel for a STEM or Montessori program, for example. The major objection to controlled choice is families no longer have a guarantee that their child will be admitted to a specific school, and they cannot plan for that when choosing a home. It also tends to fall short of defined diversity goals because school enrollment is based on parental choice, not racial or socioeconomic factors. In an ideal setting, a school choice program with quality schools would eventually lead to diversity if working with the region’s housing policy.

charter school admissions Charter schools are making in big wave in the realm of public education. They are publiclyfunded, but privately-operated so there is a wide variety of educational approaches. Because charter schools have the ability to enroll students in a larger geographic area than a typical neighborhood attendance zone, the charter sector across the country has made a great effort on de-segregating schools, especially schools with clear diversity goals, recruitment strategies, and admissions processes. Yet while many charter schools include socioeconomic status for enrollment admissions, some charter schools are not legally allowed to use weighted lottery. In such cases, these schools must use targeted recruitment, strategic location, and an intentional program design to achieve balance.

school transfer policy School districts with transfer policies that consider socioeconomic diversity generally give preference to school transfer requests that would increase the socioeconomic diversity of affected schools, or give a priority to economically disadvantaged students when reviewing transfer requests. As with magnet- and charter-based strategies, an integration approach based on transfer policies is not likely to promote integration in all schools across a district. While diversity based on class and race is most certainly achievable, unless the district uses these factors in accepting students, schools are more than likely to further along segregation.


the growing issue Historically, school integration policies have focused on race, with the intent to fix impoverished, racially isolated neighborhoods created from housing and planning strategies decades before. However, when school districts use strategies based on race and race-based housing patterns from decades ago, income stratification is bound to present itself in the form of underperforming schools. Washington DC is notoriously known for performance disparity, and its school choice program has been struggling to respond to the inequity.

Brent Elementary School “rising� school 15% low-income racially diverse


Payne Elementary School “focus� school 99% low-income racially isolated


the closeup “As long as schools are segregated by race and income, our most valuable children will continue to be written off and denied opportunities to live out their full potential.� Christie Huck, Director of City Garden Montessori

school demographics The cities of Hartford, District of Columbia, and St. Louis all utilize school choice programs with a system of busing to transfer students to their schools. However, as each program has evolved, there has been little control in balancing school populations within the district. Currently, public schools in the US are more racially segregated now than they were in the 1970s. Nationwide, more than one-third of all black and Hispanic students attend schools that are more than 90% non-white. For white students, these statistics are reversed: more than a third attend schools that are 90% –100% white. Because neighborhoods are increasingly stratified by social class, the primary issue of racial disparity in public schools is a matter of equity, not diversity. black population white population hispanic population

Hartford, Connecticut 21,453 students 1:14 teacher : student ratio

asian population 77% free or reduced lunch

District of Columbia 46,155 students 1:13 teacher : student ratio

99% free or reduced lunch

Saint Louis, Missouri 30,831 students 1:16 teacher : student ratio 85% free or reduced lunch


hartford connecticut Hartford is a city in a delicate situation because it is a high-poverty, majority-minority city of over 125,000 residents, but is surrounded by several affluent, predominantly white suburbs. While the poverty rate in the city is 34.4%, the combined poverty rate of the surrounding counties is only 12.1%. Hartford is the fourth poorest city with over 100,000 residents in the country; in contrast, greater Hartford has the nation’s seventh highest median income. Hartford’s contemporary push for school integration began with the 1996 Connecticut Supreme Court ruling in Sheff v. O’Neill. The lead petitioner, a Hartford fourth grader, filed a lawsuit through his parents, calling attention to the vast inequities between Hartford’s underresourced, majority-minority schools, and suburban schools that had predominantly white student populations. In response to the 1996 Sheff decision, the state legislature devised a voluntary system of magnet schools and school choice transfer options that would be available options for both Hartford and suburban residents. Today, more than 45% of Hartford’s black and Hispanic K–12 students attend schools in reduced-isolation settings. The Hartford School Choice Office employs robust, evidence based strategies to identify target areas for recruitment, design schools that are magnetic and appealing to a diverse group of families, and market those schools in effective ways. The region’s school districts participate in a two-way desegregation plan that allows city children to attend over thirty surrounding school districts while operating forty-five inter-district magnet schools that draw in more affluent suburban families. This strategy has made Hartford an effective model for effective school integration in a high-poverty, high-minority district.

top school districts: West Hartford Avon Farmington lowest performing schools



growing dependency The popularity of Hartford’s inter-district magnet program also presents one of its greatest challenges: figuring out how to simultaneously attract enough affluent suburban families into the program to sustain its integrative effects while maximizing magnet school access to marginalized urban children who are most in need of it. Demand for admission into the Hartford region’s inter-district magnet schools far outpaces supply. According to Bruce Douglas, former executive director of the Capital Region Education Council (CREC), the organization that runs the Regional School Choice Office, that in the academic year of 2016, there were 20,000 applicants for 2,000 seats in CREC schools. This pattern seems to expand throughout the Hartford inter-district magnet network. Simultaneously, as more black and Hispanic families begin to move out of city proper into surrounding districts, Hartford officials seeking to find more affluent white families to balance Hartford schools are forced to venture further and further into the county to recruit. All of this leads to a program that—while its intentions and ultimate effects are to help bolster achievement and opportunity for marginalized kids—does so by actively seeking the approval, enthusiasm, and attendance of richer, whiter families. Hartford’s Open Choice Program is a clear example that de-segregation strategies need to evolve based on economic status, not a continued development of Sheff racial patterns.


black pop white pop

Currently, nearly half of all participating Open Choice schools have student bodies that are more than 85% white. Hartford’s “reduced-isolation� ideals is only accounting for a racial percentage in schools, without taking economic status into effect. According to their blind placement system, an affluent black student and a low-income black student are given the same priority. Unintentionally, if the majority-race quota is not fulfilled, magnet schools in the city of Hartford could have empty seats and wait list of neighborhood students.

households w/ income greater than $100,000 1%





district of columbia Washington DC has never been known for quality public schools. According to a recent study by WallHub, DC has the second to worst public school system in the country, with the lowest math, reading, and SAT scores of any school system in the US. On the contrary it is also known to be the fastest improving school district in the country, but that may only be because in as recent as 2016, the city’s dropout rate was disturbingly low: 59% for public schools and 69% for charter schools (the country’s average was 83.2% at that time). While half of the city’s schools are private, they are just as racially isolated as their public schools, unlike the standard for the rest of the country, which typically holds more racial and socio-economic diversity in its private schools. Most recently, gentrification has become the facing issue in DC’s urbanization. For the public school system, the influx of upper-class white families could herald an end to the blatant racial segregation, if their placement were distributed evenly. Yet in a city like DC with strong school choice options, it is more often than not middle and higher income students are more likely to take advantage of city resources, like selective enrollment schools. That leaves many low income students in socioeconomically segregated schools, without a critical mass of students to fund important capital investments such as school repairs. Studies from both Harvard and the University of California in Los Angeles have shown schools with higher percentages of low-income students face a range of challenges that wealthier schools do not. Schools with high percentages of students in poverty are likely to have less experienced teachers and higher staff turnover. Many times, before teaching can even begin, those teachers must also cope with a range of issues relating to their students’ families’ low income, including lack of adequate clothing, food or housing. Despite DC’s integration legislation that demands a percentage of majority and minority students, the quality of their school’s education shows the lack of equity from social class stratification, not a lack of a racially diverse student body.

top school districts: Arlington Falls Church Fairfax lowest performing schools



inequitable disparity While only half of DS’s schools are actually private, the public school system is operated in part with the DC Public Choice Program, which is a lottery-based school choice program. The intention (and many times the outcome) is to give an equitable education to racially and socio-economically isolated students by transferring them to other public and charter schools within the district.

highest performing schools lowest performing schools

32 34

The issue lies in that school system perpetuates the income disparity between the city. The school system is not isolated from other regional networks; city-wide relationships must work together to bridge such a large gap. The option for school choice is always a benefit for families, but walkable, neighborhood schools should not be a privilege only given to higher income families.

population percentage under the age of 18 living in poverty 1%





saint louis missouri Largely due to the historical racist city planning policies in St. Louis, the city grew to be one of the most segregated regions in the country. All throughout the early 20th century did St. Louis use “urban renewal” or outright racist practices as spatial progress. Neighborhoods were deemed blighted, cleared, or just given no investment. In the later part of the century the city lost over half of its population to the county, which was (and still is) primarily white and affluent. As a result, the city is currently lacking proper density, but also properly functioning amenities to give the remaining population adequate resources. The need for de-segregation became apparent 1972, when Minnie Liddell was told her son could no longer attend their neighborhood school because of overcrowding. Liddell and her NAACP lawyer argued her child had the same right to keep attending the same school regardless of race and won. St. Louis city public schools already had a standard for desegregation after Brown, but in 1980 it was ruled as insufficient as a result of consequential Liddell cases. A full city-county transfer began in 1983 with a total of 15,000 students being bused to suburban school districts. The result for the next two decades reached higher than anticipation. The introduction of magnets and charters in the city led to integrated city schools as well as diverse non-city schools. Fifty-nine percent of the city’s black students were in desegregated schools in 1995 as contrasted to only eighteen percent in 1980. Notwithstanding, students in nearly every participating school was receiving higher achievement rates and even higher graduation rates. While there remained some opposition, there was no doubt Voluntary InterDistrict Choice Corporation (VICC) was a benefit to city and county families alike. Due to the program’s success, an unanimous of the Board of Directors for the transfer program extends the phasing out deadline another five years, with official termination marked for the 2018/2019 school year being the final opportunity for schools to accept non-district residing students.



lack of tenability Since the St. Louis transfer program began in the 1980s, over 60,000 students have participated in the city’s busing system to fourteen county school districts. As of the 2016-2017 school year, about 4,600 students currently participate, now that it has officially began phasing out. While the program has been extended twice, the previous mayor of the city, Francis Slay, played a huge role in the push for charter schools in the city, knowing the state would eventually encourage de-funding the program, in order to create a feasible in-city system of quality options for families.

Wydown Middle School

#2 / 434 Missouri Middle Schools 19% Black 18% Free Lunch

co u cit nty y

Clayton School District





b ur



Nonetheless, financial stability is only a portion of the lack of tenability. Thousands of students spending hours on school buses everyday is not a call to longevity. Many students are receiving quality education through their county schools, not only with a more challenging curriculum, but also more extra-curricular activities, in-class resources, and experienced teachers. Any student participating in VICC would agree boarding the school bus at 6 am is a minor price to pay for their quality of daily activities. However, inefficiency is always a sign of an unsustainable system.

Yeatman-Liddell Middle School St. Louis Public School District #432 / 434 Missouri Middle Schools 99.4% Black 100% Free Lunch

The financial, ecological, and temporal deficiencies can only be exhausted to certain extents. To use city resources to displace a student physically out of her school district for quality education is a sure sign that bus-transfer programs are a temporary fix, not a solution. The issue lies in a need for quality education within school districts, not diversity across metro regions. 39

conclusions Equity: the quality of being fair and impartial.


desegregation is not equity Brown v, Board of Education was not only a landmark case about segregation in schools, it also set the stage for ending de jure segregation in the country overall. However, Brown is not a case only about integrating white and black students--it speaks to the theory of education. It stands for the proposition that racially separate education is inherently unequal. It lays the legal and educational foundation for the recent Supreme Court decisions in Grutter and Gratz v. Bollinger, involving the admissions policies at selective colleges and universities across the country. Those cases state explicitly that diversity in an educational context contributes to the education of all, and society as a whole. In the context of these case and others, the need for diversity connotes to the need for equity, as the Supreme Court ruled it was impossible for racially segregated schools to be equal. Chief Justice Earl Warren had to define what is an “equal educational opportunity” in a racial context and he stated explicitly: “Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education in our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. [And listen especially to this next sentence:] Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.” Of course, equity in education was not what was sought by either blacks or whites. Brown was not about an equal lack of education opportunity for white and black students, rich and poor. It was the correct step in identifying obvious differences, but the following systematic processes cannot undo the established disparity. The factual issue of Brown that has carried into the present is opportunity to and within education that result from funding and other dynamics. Equity in educational funding and opportunity means that all students of all backgrounds have available to them at least a quality education and adequate resources. Following Brown in 1954, Green in 1968, and Swann in 1971, federal regulations regarding equity in public schools via diversity became an isolated process of dispersing students and re-allocating resources. Only through lacking any ingrained structure for re-organizing public schools within a city have these court cases created a 21st century educational apartheid: a racially and socioeconomically isolated public school system.


defining diversity Through the Supreme Court and the need for diverse classrooms, school districts were required to quantify what is considered diversity in terms of the student population. Hartford, for example, shows clear dysfunction when not every student is considered for a quality choice school. By analyzing decades of its existence, the disparity within Hartford’s city and suburban schools has been growing at the hands of a race-based system. For equity to actually be reached, the school district needs to focus on the more important number--the amount of students receiving a free or reduced lunch. This number represents economic disadvantage, not a student’s race.

Hartford Public Schools

95% minority 77% free or reduced lunch

Sheff v. O’Neil


public education should not be impaired by racial isolation

47.5% of black and Latino students should receive a “reduced isolation” education setting

52.5% minority students remain in isolated schools


city schools must appeal to white families to reach quotas Hartford City SD settings: white and Asian students must account for 25% of the student population

affluent black families and marginalized black families are given equal preference

a race-based system 2% - 15% leniency is typically given to non-compliant schools Non-city SD settings: minority students must account for 15% of the student population

standards appeal to racial segregation, not economic disparity


a new system Similar to Hartford, St. Louis City Public Schools has reached the point of not only returning to segregated schools, but also a definite disparity between affluent schools and neglected schools. These students are also a part of a majority-minority school district, with most students receiving a free or reduced lunch. While another court case may not solve the issues these schools face on a regular basis, the city can intervene in other manners to provide the student’s needs and provide equity for the school system.

St. Louis Public School System

assess reasons for lack of achievement: basic needs not met

83% minority 85% free or reduced lunch

70 schools:

no pre-k education

10 unaccredited 23 provisional

absence of educational resources lack of extra-curricular activities

47% of all city schools need re-evaluation

assess school quality issues: high teacher turnover high student-teacher ratio prevalence given to city charter schools



connect different institutions with students to provide supplemental resources

assure basic needs are provided prior to education

equalize public school standards in terms of resources allocated for students and teachers



patterns of engagement Funding for schools is based on a system of dynamics involving state allocation from federal money, down to competence of schools and number of students. The variables involved in school district finances are never static and will always change based on other schools and students around the country. For these reasons and more, the success of schools will never lie in the amount of dollars it receives, whether that is based on property tax from its neighborhood or private funding as a charter. To design a new system for student success involves incorporating a inter-disciplinary approach--one that involves looking outside the realm of education as an isolated system for answers.

public transportation The primary reason for many school district’s discontinued interest in inter-district transfer programs is the cost of busing students from one neighborhood to another. Already several school districts across the country utilize their city’s public transportation system to provide these transfer programs, along with parents who cannot afford to drive their children to their choice school. For example, in Missouri, the state has continuously seen cuts in school transportation costs. The state once covered 22% of each school district’s transportation system, but that number has now dropped to 18% as of 2017. With $147 million gone from the budget, school districts will have to devise a new budget for allocating resources to students. Already many SLPS (and other district) students take public transportation to school, choice or not. However beneficial this mode of transit may be for the school district’s and parent’s budget, public transportation is not designed for transporting students to their school. This is especially the case for young children who cannot ride public transit alone, as they could with a regular school bus. Since mass transit in the US is funded by a combination of local, state, and federal agencies, a large percentage of US cities have at least one type of public transit system. If the city could adapt their public system to provide direct access for students attending public schools, the state would not need to jeopardize its budget to continue to provide for its students. While the Federal Transit Administration is by no mean responsible for giving children priority to school children, adaptable systems (e.g. buses and BRT) can design their routes and even seating on their buses so students still have access to their choice school, regardless of the district’s ability to provide transportation. By creating a direct involvement with public transportation system and the public school system, the city can cycle waste economies and become efficient in its comprehensive resources. If multiple systems of transportation are underutilized at a city scale, the wastefulness at play can be resourced by combining efforts. Of course the question of safety and practicality come into play, but these minor issues can be resolved with thoughtful design and communal involvement.


basic needs Once the students arrive at their school, many districts provide a meal in the morning for those who qualify. However, food qualifies for one of Maslow’s identified basic needs. According to a study by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development at the College of New Jersey, children have at least four basic needs that must be met in order to learn. These are physiological, safety, love and belongingness, and self-esteem needs. Essentially, children at all ages need multiple levels and types of support for healthy, cognitive growth. Feeding children breakfast in the morning will most certainly benefit the student, but if a child is not receiving other basic necessities such as heat at night, or adequate attention at home, these deficits will make their way into the classroom. For example, many students are provided with food, shelter, and clothing by an outside entity. They have transportation to their school, and a time and place for homework. But a regular schedule does not create cognitive growth--a mind emancipated from unnecessary burdens while remaining in a stable environment is what brings outstanding students (of course there are exceptions). A student who begins her school day with all her primary needs met is already a step above others who may be lacking a basic, but required, necessity. However school-wide programs have their limits, not only in terms of resources available, but also the feasibility of school staff to assess and provide every students’ needs prior to the beginning of class. Similar to transportation, individual schools and school districts can work with already-occurring city programs to provide these basic needs before the start of class. Through establishing a system of outreach within and beyond the school district, an intersecting system of providing needs and education can become an instant and sustainable means of an equity. Already many programs exist specifically for children as need-providing programs and extra-curricular activities which function outside the school. By incorporating these programs in the school buildings during school times, these city resources become available when and how the students need them.

interacting city systems Supreme court rulings and even local jurisdiction policies will not undo the damage created through centuries of bias practices based on the relegation of African Americans. As a country, we cannot move forward until the entire nation recognizes that racism has manifested itself in more than just the education system--it is prevalent in every institution established in the United States. To justify these wrongs we cannot continue to address them in an isolated manner as we have in the past. The education system will not fix racism by any means, but by addressing the real issues, the issue of equity, we can use our resources to change our cities. A disparity in higher levels of education begins with the divergence of quality at an early age. To interlace city systems with one another will address these disparities and others directly, and create not only more efficient, but more equitable cities for our children and their children.


“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character--that is the goal of true education.� Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

references Interviews Burney, Shanita. Chief of the Office of Family and Public Engagement for District of Columbia Public Schools. Personal Interview. 24 July 2017. Holzer, Paul. Executive Director of Achieve Hartford! Personal Interview. 1 August 2017. Huck, Christie. Executive Director at City Garden Montessori School in St. Louis. Personal Interview. 18 July 2017. Jones, Dr. Terrence E. Professor Emeritus at University of Missouri in St. Louis. Personal Interview. 14 July 2017. Lorbobaum, Gay. Senior Lecturer at Washington University in St. Louis + Program Coordinator at Building Futures. Personal Interview. 7 July 2017.

Court Cases (in chronological order) Plessy v. Ferguson. 163 US 537 (1896). Buchanan v. Warley. 245 U.S. 60 (1917). Shelley v. Kraemer. 334 US 1 (1948). Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. 347 U.S. 483 (1954). Green vs. County School Board of New Kent County, Virginia. 391 U.S. 430 (1968). Miliken vs. Bradley. 418 U.S. 717 (1971). Swann vs. Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education. 402 U.S. 1 (1971). University of California v. Bakke. 438 U.S. 265 (1978). Sheff v. O’Neil. 238 Conn. 1, 678 A.2d 1267 (1989). Board of Education of Oklahoma City v. Dowell. 498 U.S. 237 (1991). Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1. 551 U.S. 701 (2007).


Other Bliss, Laura. “Secession Means Segregation In Schools, Too.” CityLab, City Lab, 26 June 2017. Web. Brown, Emma. “D.C. Releases Proposed School Boundary Policies, Could Fundamentally Change How Students Assigned to Schools.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 5 Apr. 2014. Web. Crouch, Elisa. “St. Louis Desegregation Program Headed for Phase Out.”, St. Louis Post- Dispatch, 13 July 2016. Web. “History of the VICC Program.” Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation. N.d. Huck, Christie. “Testimony: Improving School Integration for Equity, Not Diversity.” Commentary Charter Schools, The Century Foundation, 30 Sept. 2016. Web. Joseph, George. “What Could Reverse D.C.’s Intense School Segregation?” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 19 Feb. 2017. Web. Klein, Alyson. “Path to School Accountability Taking Bold New Turns.” Education Week. January 7, 2016. Lee, J., and Weiss, A. “The Nation’s Report Card: US History 2006.” (NCES 2007–474). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. 2007. Web. Lubin, Rebecca Baird-Remba and Gus. “21 Maps Of Highly Segregated Cities In America.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 25 Apr. 2013. Web. Nowicki, Jaqueline M. “K-12 Education: Better Use of Information Could Help Agencies Identify Disparities and Address Racial Discrimination.” US Government Accountability Office. April 21, 2016. Porter, Halley. “What Can We Do About Segregation in DC Schools?” The Century Foundation, The Century Foundation, 25 Aug. 2016. Web. Smarick, Andy. “D.C.’s Outstanding and Improving Charter School Sector.” The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, 14 Nov. 2014. Web. Thomas, Jacqueline Rabe. “60 Years after Brown vs. Board of Education: Still Separate in Connecticut.” The CT Mirror, The Connecticut News Project, 26 Sept. 2017. Web. Toppo, Greg. “GAO Study: Segregation Worsening in U.S. Schools.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 17 May 2016. Web. Quick, Kimberly. “Hartford Public Schools: Striving for Equity through Interdistrict Programs.” The Century Foundation. October 14, 2016.


City Garden Montessori School, Saint Louis

Profile for Christine

21st Century Educational Apartheid: Differentiating Equity from Diversity in US Public School System  

Divided City Graduate Research Fellowship 2017 for Washington University in St. Louis

21st Century Educational Apartheid: Differentiating Equity from Diversity in US Public School System  

Divided City Graduate Research Fellowship 2017 for Washington University in St. Louis