Hannah Bailenson: Integrate or Turn-around?

I enjoyed Jack Dougherty’s talk on Tuesday, but was puzzled by the solutions and question he asked at the end of the lecture, namely:

  • there are 2 school reform strategies:
    • integrate city and suburban students
    • turn-around urban schools where they are
  • is it better to de-couple housing from schools, or connect the two?

In terms of his two proposed reform strategies—while the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, I feel as if it is more important to direct funds toward urban schools rather than integrating city and suburban students. If urban schools are improved and city students are given better educational options, redistribution and re-integration would probably occur naturally, because more affluent families would move back into the cities. However, if improvement of urban schools becomes a priority, enrollment preference for these schools should be given to urban residents rather than automatically protecting privileged people in the suburbs. I do not see any reason for suburban families to be given preference for urban magnet schools. Shouldn’t these spots be reserved for urban students, and the focus placed on raising the level of urban schools to that of suburban schools, thus equalizing the playing field? Suburban students already have good options, so they should not be given preference in new urban schools.

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