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Claims that some schools, charter schools in particular, “beat the odds” founder upon close examination. Such schools are structurally selective on non-observables, at least, and frequently have high attrition rates (Rothstein, 2004, pp. In some small districts, or in areas of larger districts where ghetto and middle class neighborhoods adjoin, school integration can be accomplished by devices such as magnet schools, controlled choice, and attendance zone manipulations. Using a survey that traces individuals and their offspring since 1968, Sharkey shows that children who come from middle-class (non-poor) neighborhoods and whose mothers also grew up in middle-class neighborhoods score an average of 104 on problem-solving tests.Children from poor neighborhoods whose mothers also grew up in poor neighborhoods score lower, an average of 96. Evidence is especially impressive for long term outcomes for adolescents and young adults who have attended integrated schools (e.g., Guryan, 2001; Johnson, 2011).

There are two aspects to this conclusion: As these and many other disadvantages accumulate, lower social class children inevitably have lower average achievement than middle class children, even with the highest quality instruction.It has become conventional for policymakers to assert that the residential isolation of low-income black children is now “,” resulting from racially-motivated and explicit public policy whose effects endure to the present.Without awareness of the history of state-sponsored residential segregation, policymakers are unlikely to take meaningful steps to understand or fulfill the constitutional mandate to remedy the racial isolation of neighborhoods, or the school segregation that flows from it. We cannot substantially improve the performance of the poorest African American students – the “truly disadvantaged,” in William Julius Wilson’s phrase – by school reform alone.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.Sharkey finds that young African Americans (from 13 to 28 years old) are now ten times as likely to live in poor neighborhoods, defined in this way, as young whites—66 percent of African Americans, compared to 6 percent of whites (Sharkey, 2013, p. Sharkey shows that 67 percent of African American families hailing from the poorest quarter of neighborhoods a generation ago continue to live in such neighborhoods today. Considering all black families, 48 percent have lived in poor neighborhoods over at least two generations, compared to 7 percent of white families (Sharkey, 2013, p. If a child grows up in a poor neighborhood, moving up and out to a middle-class area is typical for whites but an aberration for blacks.

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