Koch Associate Program

ICYMI: Urban Institute report highlights legacy of racism in school assignment policies

September 23, 2021

The Urban Institute has released a new report on the role of individual school attendance boundaries in perpetuating segregation and inhibiting learner opportunity. The latest in a series supported by the Charles Koch Institute, Dividing Lines: Racially Unequal School Boundaries in U.S. Public School Systems examines the prevalent and inhibiting practice of assigning students to public schools based solely on their home address. This practice, known as residential assignment, keeps millions of children from reaching their potential. 

The report and corresponding mapping tool examined 65,000 school boundaries and highlighted 2,000 pairs of adjacent public schools that have dramatically different racial compositions. Users can type in any city to see that area’s most egregious examples of residential assignment.  

Derrell Bradford, president of the education advocacy group 50CAN and a CKI partner, discussed the report with Axios. Bradford made it clear it is the existence of the lines themselves — not how they are drawn — that are the problem.  

Bradford said, “The most important thing in American public education is place. And we have a system that is based on place because our system of place is based on race.” 

Read more about CKI’s work with the Urban Institute. Learn more about residential assignment.  

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