1

!"#"$%$ '% ()**+
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.89819)5 .:-00*; 60 ¥ears after <10=5 #> <0)1$ 03 ?$8:)/"05



Amy SLuarL Wells, uouglas 8eady, Lauren lox, Mlya Warner, Alllson 8oda, 1ameka Spence,
LllzabeLh Wllllams and Allen WrlghL



1he CenLer for undersLandlng 8ace and LducaLlon (Cu8L)
1eachers College, Columbla unlverslLy
May 2, 2014




. Crlglnally [early 1930s] we looked for houses ln 8rooklyn, and l sald one day
Lhls ls really noL whaL l wanL. l wanLed sobotblo and LhaL's when we sLarLed
looklng ouL on Lhe lsland. 1hen we found Lhls communlLy. 1he school was
close by. lL was also probably 99° !ewlsh. ?eah we moved from one gheLLo Lo
anoLher gheLLo.. we moved because l wanLed sobotblo.
- a whlLe woman who moved from 8rooklyn Lo a Long lsland suburb
ln 1936

[1hls school dlsLrlcL] was my flnal cholce because lL's dlverse. 1here're many
dlfferenL culLures Lhere, and Lhe school sysLem ls acLually very good. l knew l
couldn'L afford Lo send her Lo prlvaLe school so ln looklng for a house l needed a
good school dlsLrlcL, and [Lhls one] klnd of won ln Lwo ways. lL was a good
school sysLem and Lhen lL was a dlverse school sysLem.
- a black woman who moved from Cueens Lo Lhe same suburb 30 years laLer








2

1hls reporL ls a clarlon call for Lhose paylng aLLenLlon Lo Lhe changlng raclal and eLhnlc
demographlcs of Lhls counLry and lLs suburbs ln parLlcular. lL ls Lhe ln-depLh sLory of one
suburban counLy and lLs publlc schools as Lhe demographlcs of who llves ln Lhe suburbs versus
Lhe clLles ln Lhe 21
sL
CenLury ls shlfLlng qulckly, as Lhe affluenL and Lhe poor, Lhe black and Lhe
whlLe are Lradlng places across urban-suburban boundary llnes. 1he same sLory could be Lold
abouL hundreds of suburban counLles across Lhe counLry LhaL are faclng slmllar pressures and
approachlng slmllar breaklng polnLs.
ln Lhe sLaLlsLlcal daLa we analyzed and ln Lhe volces of Lhe 800 people we lnLervlewed
and surveyed ln nassau CounLy, Long lsland - Lhe home of LevlLLown, Lhe flrsL posL-WWll
archeLypal suburb -- Lhere ls mounLlng anxleLy abouL Lhe fuLure of Amerlcan suburbs and Lhelr
publlc schools. We found much frusLraLlon abouL how Lhe economy, houslng markeL, lack of
lnfrasLrucLure and publlc pollcles negaLlvely affecL Lhese communlLles. ln Lhls reporL, we converL
Lhls angsL lnLo a reallLy check for anyone who may Lhlnk LhaL raclally and eLhnlcally dlverse
suburbs are easlly accompllshed or LhaL Lhey do noL face serlous obsLacles.
1hese obsLacles lnclude raclally and eLhnlcally segregaLed houslng paLLerns amld
fragmenLed and dlvlded munlclpallLles and school dlsLrlcLs and Lhe ºbraln draln" of more
affluenL and educaLed resldenLs who grew up ln Lhe suburbs buL now prefer clLy llfe.
Meanwhlle, Lhese suburbs are ºLubs on Lhelr own boLLoms," heavlly rellanL on ºlocal" sources of
fundlng, namely properLy Laxes, Lo pay for publlc schools and munlclpal servlces. 1hls means
LhaL publlc school resources ooJ repuLaLlons are spread unevenly across separaLe and unequal
suburban dlsLrlcLs.
Þreclsely because so many suburbs are small and auLonomous, Lhey and Lhelr publlc
schools face mounLlng pressures Lo susLaln Lhemselves economlcally. WlLhouL ºgood" publlc
schools LhaL aLLracL homebuyers and sLablllze communlLles, Lhlngs sLarL Lo fall aparL. Þeople
wlLh Lhe lncome Lo pay hlgher properLy Laxes and wlLh Lhe educaLlon levels Lo demand more of
publlc schools leave ln search of schools and communlLles LhaL are vlewed as belng ºhlgher
quallLy." CommunlLles and publlc schools Lhen become overwhelmed by Lhe needs of less
advanLaged sLudenLs amld shrlnklng Lax revenues and decllnlng resources.
ln Lhe new suburban reallLy, ºgood" publlc schools are becomlng more dlverse ln Lerms
of Lhe races, eLhnlclLles, lncome levels, counLrles of orlgln and rellglons of Lhe sLudenLs Lhey now
serve. Amerlcan suburbs, Lherefore, provlde Lhe besL seLLlng for addresslng how Lo make dlverse
publlc schools work for all sLudenLs.
1hls reporL Lells Lwo lnLerLwlned sLorles abouL suburban publlc educaLlon:
1. 1he economlc, pollLlcal and soclal pressures suburban publlc school dlsLrlcLs face Loday,
whlch we refer Lo as "the perfect storm" of facLors, from Lax caps and budgeL cuLs Lo
Lhe burdensome accounLablllLy sysLem and Lhe anLl-publlc school pollLlcs.
2. 1he process by whlch creaLlng separaLe and unequal schools and communlLles Lends Lo
repeaL lLself agaln and agaln.
1hls reporL also offers some lnslghL lnLo how we could reverse Lhls Lrend ln a counLry LhaL ls
changlng rapldly ln Lerms of our demographlcs, our publlc, and our sense of who we are.

Sect|on Cne:
Suburban-C|ty M|grat|on Þatterns - kace and 1rad|ng Þ|aces:
1he Demograph|c Sea Change of a Nat|on and |ts Suburbs
Much aLLenLlon has been pald Lo Lhe facL LhaL Lhe u.S. populaLlon overall ls becomlng
more raclally and eLhnlcally dlverse. 1he medla have polnLed ouL repeaLedly LhaL by Lhe mlddle
of Lhe 21
sL
CenLury, Lhls counLry's populaLlon overall wlll no longer be ma[orlLy whlLe, non-
Plspanlc. Lven more noLably, Lhls LranslLlon ls happenlng much more qulckly amld our younger
3

populaLlon. Come SepLember 2014, for Lhe flrsL Llme ln our naLlon's hlsLory, whlLe sLudenLs wlll
no longer consLlLuLe a ma[orlLy of Lhe counLry's publlc school enrollmenL, accordlng Lo Lhe u.S.
ueparLmenL of LducaLlon. 8apld growLh ln Lhe Plspanlc and Aslan populaLlons coupled wlLh a
black populaLlon LhaL has remalned consLanL and a decllne ln Lhe percenLage of whlLes has led
Lo a LoLal klndergarLen-12
Lh
grade enrollmenL LhaL wlll be 49 percenL whlLe, 26 percenL Plspanlc,
13 percenL black, and 3 percenL Aslan ln Lhe 2014-13 school year.
Colncldlng wlLh Lhls changlng raclal makeup of our counLry and our publlc schools ls a
profound shlfL ln wbo llves wbete. ln many ways, our posL WWll paradlgm of ºchocolaLe clLles
and vanllla suburbs" has been Lurned on lLs head. lor Lhe lasL 23 years ln parLlcular, Lhe flrsL and
second rlng suburbs of ma[or clLles have been aL Lhe forefronL of Lhe reversal of ºwhlLe fllghL"
from clLles Lo suburbs afLer WWll. lndeed, by 1980, many clLles had become predomlnanLly
black and/or LaLlno, houslng 67 percenL of blacks and 30 percenL of LaLlnos, buL only 24 percenL
of whlLes llved ln Lhese clLy cenLers (u.S. Census, 1993). AL LhaL Llme, only 23 percenL of blacks
llved ln Lhe suburbs. lurLhermore, black suburbanlzaLlon raLes were even lower - abouL 12-13
percenL -- ln Lhe norLheasL (Parrlgan, 1993).
1

A subsequenL phase of meLropollLan change, beglnnlng slowly ln Lhe 1980s, enLalled
lncreaslng mlnorlLy suburbanlzaLlon. uurlng Lhls Llme, growlng numbers of mlddle-class black,
LaLlno and Aslan famllles lefL urban communlLles for Lhe suburbs, seeklng Lhe llfesLyle
advanLages whlLes had soughL decades earller-larger homes wlLh yards, lower crlme raLes, less
nolse and dlrL, and, Lhe percepLlon of beLLer publlc schools. 8y 2000, nearly 40 percenL of blacks
were llvlng ln Lhe suburbs. SuburbanlzaLlon has also lncreased among lmmlgranL famllles -
mosLly LaLlno and Aslan --and by 2000, 48 percenL of lmmlgranLs were resldlng ln suburban
areas, as Lhe houslng bubble was lnflaLlng (lrey, 2001).
8y Lhe 1990s, [ournallsLs and researchers were lncreaslngly reporLlng on Lhe growlng
number of dlsLressed suburbs LhaL were comlng Lo resemble poor lnner-clLy communlLles. lor
lnsLance, Lucy and Þhllllps (2003) noLe LhaL from 1990 Lo 2000, whlle some newly developlng
suburbs experlenced rapld growLh ln people and [obs, ºmany older suburbs experlenced cenLral-
clLy-llke challenges, lncludlng an aglng lnfrasLrucLure, lnadequaLe houslng sLock, deLerloraLlng
schools and commerclal corrldors - and populaLlon decllne" (p. 117).
A 2000 reporL on clLles versus suburbs concluded LhaL whlle suburbs were sLlll more
affluenL Lhan clLles on average, cerLaln clLles were becomlng less poor and Lhelr resldenLs were
more educaLed Lhan Lhelr suburban counLerparLs (Mumford CenLer, 2000). 8y 2008, an Atlootlc
Mootbly arLlcle hlghllghLed Lhe lmpacL of Lhe sub-prlme morLgage crlsls on suburban
communlLles experlenclng hlgh raLes of foreclosures. 8uL Lhe auLhor was qulck Lo noLe LhaL
decllnlng suburban nelghborhoods dld noL begln wlLh Lhe morLgage crlsls and LhaL Lhey would
noL end wlLh lL as more people wlLh hlgh lncomes move lnLo Lhe clLles (Lelnberger, 2008).
1hls leads Lo whaL we have concepLuallzed ln Lhe currenL, posL-2000 era, as Lhe sLlll
evolvlng perlod of meLro mlgraLlons, whlch we refer Lo as Lhe ºLradlng places" phase (lllusLraLed
ln llgure 1 below- see lrey, 2011). ln Lhls lasL decade, black and recenL lmmlgranL
suburbanlzaLlon has conLlnued, buL afLer a half-cenLury of whlLe fllghL Lo Lhe suburbs, a growlng
number of upper-mlddle class and relaLlvely more affluenL whlLes are movlng back lnLo urban
cenLers (Lees, SlayLer, & Wyly, 2008). Lured by Lhe convenlence, exclLemenL and culLure of clLy

1
It is important to bear in mind, however, that many “black suburbs” are simply smaller, high-poverty
cities located near large cities (e.g., Camden, NJ and East St. Louis, IL; Massey & Denton, 1993). Areas
that experienced substantial growth in black populations during this second phase of metropolitan change
also tended to be older, “inner-ring” suburbs that were poor, experiencing social and economic decline, and
rarely called to mind the “suburban ideal.”
4

llvlng, lncreaslng numbers of hlghly skllled whlLes ln so-called ºglobal clLles" such as new ?ork
and San lranclsco have opLed ouL of long dally commuLes by llvlng ln nearby urban, and ofLen
genLrlfled, nelghborhoods (Sassen, 2006). ClLy llfe, once consldered by many whlLes as
dangerous, dlrLy and crowded, ls now lncreaslngly assoclaLed wlLh exclLemenL, fun and
convenlence (see Lelnberger, 2008). As LhrenhalL (2012) noLes, clLles and suburbs have
experlenced a ºdemographlc lnverslon" as a resulL of Lhelr changlng raclal composlLlon.
Whlle a small Lrlckle of whlLes began movlng back lnLo so-called genLrlfled areas of clLles
ln Lhe laLe 1970s, Lhe pace of genLrlflcaLlon has acceleraLed much more rapldly ln recenL years
(Lees, SlayLer & Wyly, 2008). 1he new ?ork ClLy meLropollLan area represenLs a prlme example
of Lhe mosL recenL Lradlng spaces phenomenon. lor lnsLance, Lhe percenLage of whlLes ln
ManhaLLan lncreased 28 percenL beLween 2000 and 2006, whlle lL decllned ln nearby suburban
nassau CounLy. uurlng Lhe same slx-year perlod, Lhe Plspanlc populaLlon decllned by 2 percenL
ln ManhaLLan, buL lncreased by 20 percenL ln nassau. 1hls 21
sL
cenLury urban arlsLocracy-or
ºgenLry"-ls drlvlng up home prlces ln selecL clLy nelghborhoods, someLlmes pushlng lower
lncome resldenLs-mosLly black and LaLlno-lnLo ouLlylng urban and lnner-rlng suburban
communlLles (lreeman, 2006).
As Lhe clLles become magneLs for young whlLe professlonals, mosL of whom grew up ln
Lhe suburbs, Lhere ls a growlng concern abouL Lhe ºbraln draln" from Lhe suburbs (8erger, 2014,
uownLown Alllance, 2012, Long lsland lndex, 2010) and whaL Lhe fuLure of Lhe suburbs wlll be.

llgure 1: Share of ÞopulaLlon by 8ace/LLhnlclLy, Þrlmary ClLles and Suburbs, 1990-2010

Source: lrey, 2011.

1hls currenL, ºLradlng places" phase of meLro mlgraLlons dld noL happen by accldenL.
!usL as federal pollcles afLer WWll enabled whlLe famllles Lo flee Lhe clLles whlle keeplng many
people of color ouL of Lhe suburbs, several more recenL federal pollcles encouraged lower-
lncome black and LaLlno famllles Lo buy houses ln Lhe suburbs ln Lhe lasL Lwo decades (!ackson,
1983, Payden, 2003, Lamb, 2003, Massey and uenLon, 1993). SLarLlng ln Lhe laLe 1980s, a seL of
federal pollcles slmulLaneously supporLed a new form of ºurban renewal," whlch pushed
mllllons of poor famllles ouL of clLles, and greaLer homeownershlp for Lhose famllles who had
noL been able Lo afford a home. 1he Pope vl program ln Lhe 1990s replaced publlc houslng
pro[ecLs wlLh mlxed-lncome houslng and provlded vouchers Lo dlsplaced houslng pro[ecL
5

resldenLs for Lhem Lo flnd houslng ln Lhe prlvaLe markeL - ofLen ln lnner rlng suburbs. A LoLal of
abouL 80,000 unlLs were desLroyed, and only 19 percenL of Lhe resldenLs of Lhese urban publlc
houslng pro[ecLs acLually moved back Lo Lhe same slLes. 1hose who moved ouL of asslsLed
houslng were more llkely Lo end up ln less-poor (alLhough sLlll noL affluenL) communlLles. 8uL aL
Lhe same Llme, Lhe black resldenLs ln parLlcular, remalned ln raclally segregaLed communlLles
LhaL were 90 percenL or more black (Sharkey, 2013, urban lnsLlLuLe, 2004).
Meanwhlle, federal pollcles such as Lhe CommunlLy 8elnvesLmenL AcL of 1993 provlded
lncenLlves for banks and savlng lnsLlLuLlons Lo loan money Lo low-lncome home buyers. Whlle
Lhls federal law greaLly conLrlbuLed Lo predaLory lendlng pracLlces and Lhe evenLual morLgage
lendlng crlsls, lL flrsL encouraged many black and LaLlno famllles Lo leave Lhelr urban
nelghborhoods and move Lo aglng suburbs where Lhe cosL of houslng remalned relaLlvely low
compared Lo more affluenL suburbs and many areas of genLrlfylng clLles. Accordlng Lo Lngel and
McCoy (2008), beLween 1994 and 2003, black homeownershlp rose 13 percenL and Plspanlc
homeownershlp rose more Lhan 13 percenL. 1ogeLher, black and Plspanlc homeownershlp raLes
rose nearly Lwlce as fasL as Lhe whlLe homeownershlp raLe durlng LhaL decade. 1hus, lL ls no
surprlse LhaL by 2006, Lhe number of people llvlng below Lhe federal poverLy llne was greaLer ln
Lhe suburbs Lhan Lhe clLles. ln facL, accordlng Lo a unlverslLy of MlnnesoLa reporL, by 2012, only
18 percenL of Lhe populaLlon ln Lhe 30 largesL meLro areas of Lhe counLry sLlll llves ln
predomlnanLly whlLe, non-Plspanlc suburbs (Crfleld and Luce, 2012).
Cverall, Lhese flucLuaLlng meLropollLan characLerlsLlcs suggesL LhaL LradlLlonal paradlgms
of ºclLles" versus ºsuburbs" are rapldly evolvlng ln ways LhaL we cannoL yeL compleLely
comprehend. 1he advenL of Lhe Lradlng places phenomenon, ln parLlcular, compllcaLes our 30-
year-old noLlons of clearly dellneaLed urban-suburban boundarles - ln Lerms of demographlcs,
buL economlc LransformaLlons as well. 1hus, common caLegorlzaLlons of clLles versus suburbs-
one characLerlzed by communlLles ln need, wlLh hlgh-rlse houslng pro[ecLs and concenLraLed
poverLy, and Lhe oLher mlddle-class (or hlgher) wlLh slngle-famlly homes and peaceful
nelghborhoods -- may have ouLllved lLs usefulness. lndeed, lL ls lncreaslngly clear LhaL
conLemporary urban and suburban communlLles eocb conLaln pockeLs of poverLy and affluence,
ofLen funcLlonlng as raclally and eLhnlcally dlsLlncL spaces. ln facL, by 2003, one mllllon more poor
people llved ln suburban compared Lo urban areas (8erube & kneebone, 2006).

1he Lnd of the Suburbs?
Amerlcan suburbs are ln Lhe mldsL of an ldenLlLy crlsls. no longer Lhe guaranLeed
desLlnaLlon for wealLhy homebuyers, Lhe suburbs have been declared ºdead" by Lhose Lracklng
Lhe mlgraLlon of empLy-nesL 8aby 8oomers and Lhelr Mlllennlal offsprlng lnLo hlpper clLy
dwelllngs. Solldlfled by Lhe uncerLalnLy surroundlng home-buylng ln Lhe wake of Lhe houslng
crlsls, 77° of Mlllennlals expressed a preference for urban llfe (LhrenhalL, 2012). ln her recenL
book, 1be íoJ of tbe 5obotbs, Calllger (2013) noLes LhaL 2011 was Lhe flrsL year ln decades LhaL
populaLlon growLh ln Lhe clLles ouLpaced LhaL of Lhe suburbs, and home bullders now say Lhelr
besL markeLs are Lhe urban, genLrlfylng nelghborhoods.
ln many ways, Lhls exodus from Lhe suburbs Lo Lhe clLles ls more Lhan a mlgraLlon--lL's a
blaLanL re[ecLlon of Lhe suburban llfesLyle ln favor of clLy llvlng, lncludlng more walkable
nelghborhoods, beLLer publlc LransporLaLlon and nlghL llfe, and low-malnLenance aparLmenLs
wlLh no yards Lo mow or drlveways Lo shovel. Meanwhlle, many older suburbs are faclng
mounLlng challenges such as aglng lnfrasLrucLure, hlgh properLy Lax raLes, shrlnklng Lax bases,
lack of soclal servlces and publlc school sysLems heavlly dependenL on local fundlng. AL Lhe same
Llme, Lhe morLgage lendlng crlsls and recesslon hlL many mlddle-class suburbs hard, leavlng
foreclosed and abandoned houses and a rlslng poverLy Lax raLe ln lLs wake.
6

8uL before Lhe suburban eplLaph ls wrlLLen, lL ls worLh noLlng LhaL more Lhan half of Lhe u.S.
populaLlon - abouL 33 percenL -- sLlll llves ln Lhese supposedly dylng suburbs. lurLhermore,
Lhese suburban resldenLs are lncreaslngly dlverse ln Lerms of race, eLhnlclLy, and culLure, glvlng
Lhe suburbs a far more cosmopollLan feel Lhan ln Lhe posL-WWll era. ln facL, Loday, ln Lhe 30
largesL meLropollLan areas, 44 percenL of resldenLs llve ln raclally and eLhnlcally dlverse suburbs,
deflned as beLween 20 and 60 percenL non-whlLe (Crfleld and Luce, 2012).
Suburbla aL Lhe Crossroads
Amld Lhls sea change, a nascenL suburban revlLallzaLlon movemenL ls Laklng hold. AL Lhe
cenLer of Lhls growlng efforL Lo save Lhe suburbs ls an appreclaLlon of small, dlverse
communlLles where people work LogeLher Lo solve local problems, cross culLural boundarles and
galn muLual respecL. 1hls ls a Lall order for suburbs esLabllshed ln Lhe era of ºwhlLe fllghL" from
Lhe clLles. 8uL as Lhe demographlcs of Lhe counLry as a whole have changed - now only 63
percenL whlLe, non-Plspanlc -- raclal aLLlLudes have changed as well, wlLh more Amerlcans Lhan
ever soyloq Lhey are wllllng Lo llve ln raclally dlverse communlLles.
SusLalnlng raclally dlverse suburbs ls easler sald Lhan done, however, as Loo many
realLors and home buyers lnadverLenLly perpeLuaLe paLLerns of segregaLlon coupled wlLh
dlfferences ln properLy values for Lhe same houses across raclally dlsLlncL communlLles.
ln Lhe followlng secLlons of Lhls reporL, we lllusLraLe many of Lhe sLrucLural forces
worklng agalnsL susLalnlng dlverse and dynamlc suburban communlLles. We also provlde some
hope LhaL Lhose who wanL Lo make lL happen can succeed.

Sect|on 1wo
Þatterns of Suburban Segregat|on and the Va|ue of Þ|ace:
Long Is|and as a M|crocosm
1bos, wblle mocb bos cbooqeJ lo botb otboo ooJ sobotboo commooltles sloce wotlJ
wot ll, mocb bos olso stoyeJ tbe some. lo foct, tbe most cooslsteot floJloq to emetqe ftom
teseotcb octoss tbese tbtee pboses of mettopolltoo cbooqe ls tbot seqteqotloo olooq
toclol/etbolc lloes bos temoloeJ foltly coostoot lo botb otboo ooJ sobotboo cootexts. 1hese
paLLerns of segregaLlon are experlenced even more conslsLenLly by Afrlcan Amerlcans Lhan by
members of oLher raclal groups. numerous auLhors have noLed LhaL black suburbanlzaLlon ls
rarely accompanled by raclal lnLegraLlon, and LhaL even mlddle-class Afrlcan Amerlcans remaln
hlghly segregaLed (Adelman, 2003).
lL ls Lrue LhaL ln Lhe mldsL of mlgraLlons wlLhln local slLes, segregaLlon usually lessens Lo
some degree when blacks or LaLlnos flrsL move lnLo predomlnanLly whlLe suburbs or when
whlLes begln Lo hablLaL mosLly black or LaLlno genLrlfylng urban nelghborhoods. 8uL over Llme,
Lhese nelghborhoods, more ofLen Lhan noL, become resegregaLed as whlLes deparL economlcally
decllnlng suburbs and mlnorlLles become prlced ouL of genLrlfled urban spaces (larley & Squlres,
2003, lreeman, 2006, SeLhl & SomanaLhan, 2004, 8eardon and 8lschoff, 2011).
Meanwhlle, Lhe rapld lncrease ln lncome lnequallLy ln Lhe u.S. appears Lo be
accompanled by a relaLed lncrease ln resldenLlal segregaLlon by class. Accordlng Lo 8eardon and
8lschoff (2009), botb lncome lnequallLy and lncome segregaLlon grew subsLanLlally ln Lhe
decades from 1970 Lo 2000, Lhe resulL of spaLlal concenLraLlon of Lhe mosL affluenL resldenLs.

1he 8ole of Þubllc Schools
1hus, as meLro mlgraLlon paLLerns have changed and even reversed and paLLerns of
segregaLlon by race and lncome conLlnue and worsen ln some lnsLances, a crlLlcal quesLlon
remalns unanswered by Lhe exlsLlng research on Lhese populaLlon shlfLs: WhaL role do publlc
schools play - glven Lhe many facLors LhaL affecL people's declslons abouL where Lhey llve - ln
7

where dlfferenL people end up and Lhe on-golng segregaLlon and sLraLlflcaLlon across space and
boundarles?
Whlle a growlng number of soclal sclenLlsLs are aLLempLlng Lo explaln Lhese urban-
suburban changes ln Lerms of demographlcs, segregaLlon paLLerns, houslng and labor markeLs,
Lhere has been llLLle sysLemaLlc, mulLl-meLhod analysls of Lhe lmpacL of publlc schools-Lhelr
repuLaLlons, resources and enrollmenLs ln parLlcular-on Lhe movemenL of famllles across urban
and suburban school dlsLrlcL boundary llnes (see lrankenberg and Crfleld, 2013, Lareau, 2014).
nor do we really undersLand how raclal/eLhnlc, soclo-economlc and pollLlcal populaLlon shlfLs
are lmpacLlng educaLors and Lhelr ablllLy Lo serve rapldly changlng sLudenL populaLlons. lf, as
Lelnberger (2008) suggesLs, Lhe lmpacL of Lhese recenL meLropollLan mlgraLlon paLLerns on clLles
and suburbs are llkely Lo be profound, no less can be sald of Lhelr poLenLlal lmpacL on publlc
schools.
lurLhermore, we do know LhaL, as wlLh resldenLlal segregaLlon, segregaLlon ln publlc
schools appears Lo perslsL across urban and suburban conLexLs. lor lnsLance, 8eardon and ?un's
(2001, 2008) work demonsLraLes LhaL suburban publlc schools Lend Lo become more raclally
dlverse lnlLlally as Afrlcan Amerlcans or LaLlnos move lnLo formerly whlLe suburban enclaves,
buL LhaL over Llme, whlLes flee Lhese publlc schools, as Lhey dld ln urban school dlsLrlcLs ln Lhe
1930s, 60s and 70s, leavlng behlnd pockeLs of separaLe and unequal black and brown schools
and dlsLrlcLs ln suburbla. We also know LhaL raclal and soclo-economlc segregaLlon ln publlc
schools overall ls on Lhe rlse (Crfleld & Lee, 2007, 8eardon and Cwens, 2014), furLher suggesLlng
LhaL Lhe movemenL of people over clLy-suburban boundarles ls noL leadlng Lo more lnLegraLed
educaLlonal experlences for mosL sLudenLs.
We also know LhaL suburban school dlsLrlcLs Lend Lo be smaller because suburban
counLles - especlally ln Lhe norLh and MldwesL -- are far more fragmenLed, or dlvlded, lnLo Llny
[urlsdlcLlons (8lschoff, 2008). 1hls means LhaL school segregaLlon ln suburbla ls, on average,
more lnsldlous Lhan lL was ln Lhe large urban schools dlsLrlcLs ln Lhe 1930s and 60s because any
efforL Lo ºdesegregaLe" sLudenLs would requlre crosslng legal, lmpeneLrable and hlghly symbollc
school dlsLrlcL boundarles (see 8lschoff and 8eardon, 2012). lL also means LhaL raclally and
soclo-economlcally segregaLed schools are noL only separaLe, buL due Lo Lhelr heavy rellance on
properLy Laxes, Lhey are also exLremely unequal. 1hese lssues of fragmenLaLlon and segregaLlon
as Lhey play ouL ln demographlcally shlfLlng suburbs led us Lo sLudy one norLheasLern suburban
counLy LhaL eplLomlzes Lhe many challenges Lhe suburbs now face as Lhelr populaLlons change.

Nassau County, Long Is|and: A M|crocosm of A|| 1h|ngs Suburban C|rca 2014
Cf all Lhe places ln Lhe counLry Lo sLudy changlng suburbs and Lhelr publlc schools,
nassau CounLy, new ?ork, [usL Lo Lhe easL of new ?ork ClLy on Long lsland, embodles some of
Lhe mosL dlfflculL hardshlps faclng Amerlcan suburbla Loday. We know, for lnsLance, LhaL new
?ork SLaLe, lncludlng Lhe new ?ork ClLy MeLropollLan Area, ls one of Lhe mosL segregaLed sLaLes
ln Lhe counLry (Clvll 8lghLs Þro[ecL, 2014). Meanwhlle, nassau CounLy overall ls lncredlbly
dlverse ln Lerms of race, eLhnlclLy and class, buL lL ls also one of Lhe mosL fragmenLed,
segregaLed and unequal counLles ln Lhe u.S.
ln facL, based on a number of lndlcaLors, nassau CounLy ls even more dlvlded by local
(munlclpal and school dlsLrlcL) boundary llnes Lhan oLher counLles ln Lhe hlghly fragmenLed
norLheasL. 8lschoff (2008) noLes LhaL Lhe new ?ork/new !ersey meLro area ls one of Lhe mosL
fragmenLed naLlonally. More speclflcally, when looklng aL Long lsland, 8lshoff (2008) reporLs
LhaL compared Lo a naLlonal average of school dlsLrlcL fragmenLaLlon measure of .72, whlch ls
Lhe probablllLy LhaL any Lwo randomly selecLed sLudenLs wlll llve ln dlfferenL school dlsLrlcLs, Lhe
8

Lwo Long lsland counLles of nassau and Suffolk have a fragmenLaLlon score of .986 comblned (p.
16).
As lllusLraLed ln llgure 2 below, Lhe 220 square mlles of nassau CounLy are dlvlded lnLo
Lhree Lowns, Lwo clLles, 64 vlllages, hundreds of unlncorporaLed hamleLs, and 36 school dlsLrlcLs.

llgure 2. Map of nassau CounLy School ulsLrlcLs, ClLy-1own and vlllage 8oundarles

9


vlllages ln parLlcular appear Lo be Lhe mosL slgnlflcanL munlclpal boundary llnes Lo home
buyers/leasers based on our research. 1hey provlde ºlocal conLrol" and several locallzed servlces
(alLhough Lhese vary from one vlllage Lo Lhe nexL), lncludlng garbage and snow removal, flre
flghLers, and - perhaps mosL lmporLanLly - local zonlng regulaLlons. ÞroperLy Lax raLes vary
across vlllage boundarles.
Meanwhlle, Lhe boundary llnes for Lhe 36 school dlsLrlcLs servlng a LoLal of 223,000
sLudenLs ln aggregaLe lnLersecL wlLh Lhese resldenLlal boundarles ln raLher lnconslsLenL and
unpredlcLable ways, only addlng Lo Lhe degree of fragmenLaLlon. lor lnsLance, Lhere are school
dlsLrlcLs ln nassau CounLy LhaL encompass all or parL of a LoLal of nlne vlllages. Slmllarly, Lhere
are vlllages ln nassau CounLy LhaL are dlvlded by as many as nlne school dlsLrlcLs. 1hese
lnLersecLlng and lnLerLwlned boundarles ofLen lead Lo a sense of local ºldenLlLy" LhaL ls more
LlghLly Lled Lo school dlsLrlcLs Lhan Lo Lowns or vlllages, even Lhough Lhese munlclpal boundarles
maLLer as well.
lf, as several people we lnLervlewed ln nassau CounLy noLed, school dlsLrlcLs maLLer
mosL ln Lerms of where someone llves and Lhe places Lhey call ºhome" or where Lhey say Lhey
are ºfrom," Lhen Lhey musL cerLalnly maLLer a greaL deal ln Lerms of where people buy homes
and how much Lhey wlll pay for Lhem. lL ls also Lrue LhaL when Llmes are Lough - when [obs are
scarce and lncome Lo pay properLy Laxes ls LlghL - Lhe publlc schools, whlch absorb, on average,
abouL 63-70 percenL of Lhe local Lax revenue on Long lsland, wlll be Lhe LargeL of much scruLlny
and crlLlclsm.
Cur mlxed-meLhod, flve-year sLudy of nassau CounLy and lLs publlc schools examlned
how Lhe resldenLs ºvalue" publlc educaLlon - as well as whlch publlc schools Lhey valued Lhe
mosL and why. We dld Lhls Lhough a varleLy of daLa collecLlon and analysls - from sLaLlsLlcal
analysls of properLy values and school dlsLrlcL boundarles Lo a survey of recenL home buyers and
abouL 300 ln-depLh lnLervlews. WhaL we learned ls LhaL Lhe ºvalue" nassau CounLy resldenLs
place on Lhelr publlc schools - boLh ln Lerms of Lhe ºmaLerlal value" of Lhe prlce of houslng and
Lhe ºemoLlonal value" of repuLaLlon, ldenLlLy and appreclaLlon of a place - ls LlghLly Lled Lo who
llves ln a glven communlLy and who aLLends Lhe publlc schools. Such evaluaLlons, we argue, are
forces of segregaLlon and lnequallLy. 8uL we argue LhaL Lhese evaluaLlons, ln llghL of changlng
raclal aLLlLudes, could also work ln favor of efforLs Lo creaLe and susLaln raclally and eLhnlcally
dlverse schools and nelghborhoods.

1he Segregated nous|ng Market from Þ|ace to Þ|ace:
S|m||ar nouses, D|fferent Ne|ghbors w|th D|fferent "Va|ues"
8eLween 1930 and 1960, Lhe populaLlon of nassau CounLy more Lhan doubled Lo abouL
1.3 mllllon. ln Lhe laLe 1960s, afLer bullders llke Lhe LevlLL broLhers had consLrucLed mlles of
slngle-famlly homes and Lhe federal governmenL had asslsLed whlLe famllles ln movlng from
clLles Lo suburbs, Lhe populaLlon of nassau CounLy was 97 percenL whlLe overall. 8y 1980,
nassau CounLy's overall populaLlon was sLlll 92 percenL whlLe, non-Plspanlc. 8uL beLween 1980
and 2008, Lhe whlLe populaLlon began Lo decllne more rapldly Lo less Lhan 69 percenL whlLe,
non-Plspanlc. Meanwhlle, Lhe publlc school populaLlon changed even more dramaLlcally durlng
LhaL Llme frame, wlLh Lhe whlLe sLudenL populaLlon shlfLlng from 92 Lo 62 percenL for Lhe
counLy-wlde average beLween 1970 and 2008 (see llgure 3 below).




10

llgure 3. nassau CounLy 8esldenLlal and Þubllc School ÞroporLlon WhlLe


1hrough much analysls of daLa on raclal/eLhnlc and socloeconomlc characLerlsLlcs of
sLudenLs ln nassau CounLy school dlsLrlcLs over Llme, we found LhaL demographlc change (or
lack Lhereof) can be descrlbed uslng four maln caLegorles:

1. Suburbs and publlc schools LhaL sLeadlly remaln predomlnanLly whlLe (and ofLen, buL
noL always, affluenL).
2. ulverse suburbs and publlc schools wlLh an lncreaslng Aslan populaLlon, as Lhe whlLe
populaLlon decllnes.
3. ulverse suburbs and publlc schools wlLh an lncreaslngly dlverse black and LaLlno
populaLlon, as Lhe whlLe populaLlon decllnes.
4. Suburbs and publlc schools wlLh vlrLually no whlLe sLudenLs remalnlng. 1hese
communlLles are usually home Lo resldenLs of a varleLy of raclal and eLhnlc ldenLlLles,
buL are more llkely Lo be predomlnanLly black and/or Plspanlc and less affluenL.
We selecLed Lhese four caLegorles because alLhough segregaLlon and demographlc change are
ofLen dlscussed ln Lerms of a whlLe/non-whlLe paradlgm, our lnLervlew daLa suggesL LhaL all
demographlc change ls noL Lhe same ln Lerms of how lL relaLes Lo Lhe shlfLlng repuLaLlon and
sLaLus of a parLlcular school dlsLrlcL. 1hus, for our analyses, lL ls lmporLanL Lo dlsLlngulsh
beLween dlfferenL forms of dlverslflcaLlon.
llgures 4 and 3 show Lhe exLenL Lo whlch demographlc change has occurred ln nassau
CounLy ln Lhe Llme perlod beLween Lhe 1998-1999 and 2011-2012 school years. lL ls clear from
Lhese maps LhaL Lhere are far fewer predomlnanLly whlLe dlsLrlcLs ln nassau CounLy Lhan Lhere
were [usL over a decade ago.



llgure 4. nassau CounLy 8aclal ulverslLy (by School ulsLrlcL) 1998-1999
Figure 5. Nassau County Overall and Public School Proportion White
96.8
97.4 97.7 97.3 97.5
94.9
91.8
86.6
75.3
68.5
92
84
76
68
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80
100
120
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Total Population Percent White
Percent White Public School Population
11


















llgure 3. nassau CounLy 8aclal ulverslLy (by School ulsLrlcL) 2011-2012
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13

SLlll, Lhe dlsLrlbuLlon of Lhe whlLe populaLlon and sLudenLs of color ls far from even
across nassau CounLy's 36 school dlsLrlcLs. 8aclal/eLhnlc segregaLlon, as lndlcaLed by n, has
remalned sLeady aL approxlmaLely .4 over Lhe lasL several decades, whlch ls more Lhan double
Lhe naLlonal average. lmporLanLly, roughly 93 percenL of Lhe segregaLlon lles beLween raLher
Lhan wlLhln dlsLrlcLs. 1he red llne aL Lhe boLLom of llgure 4 below lndlcaLes Lhe proporLlon of
segregaLlon LhaL lles wlLhln school dlsLrlcLs. 1he yellow llne lndlcaLes Lhe proporLlon of
segregaLlon LhaL lles beLween dlsLrlcLs, whlle Lhe black llne lndlcaLes overall segregaLlon. noLe
LhaL Lhe yellow and black llnes vlrLually overlap, lndlcaLlng Lhe Lremendous amounL of beLween-
dlsLrlcL segregaLlon. 1hese raLher dramaLlc raclal and eLhnlc dlsLlncLlons across school dlsLrlcL
boundarles have lmpllcaLlons for who moves where ln nassau CounLy and how much Lhey pay
for Lhelr home.

llgure 6. nassau CounLy School SegregaLlon lndex (n), 8eLween and WlLhln ulsLrlcLs




School ulsLrlcL 8oundarles and ÞroperLy values
1o fully appreclaLe how Lhe demographlc shlfLs noLed above and Lhe resulLlng raclal
segregaLlon lnLersecLed wlLh Lhe ºvalue" LhaL homebuyers placed on houses across boundary
llnes, we conducLed a sLaLlsLlcal analysls of Lhe prlces LhaL home buyers ln nassau CounLy ln Lhe
years 2007 and 2010 pald for Lhelr houses across school dlsLrlcL boundary llnes. ln order Lo
conducL Lhls analysls, we obLalned daLa from Lhe nassau CounLy Assessor's offlce on Lhe
ºquallLy" of each home boughL and sold durlng Lhe Llme perlod. 1hls daLa base lncluded all Lhe
maLerlal, Langlble facLors we would Lhlnk of LhaL should affecL Lhe prlce of a home -- Lhe slze of
Lhe loL, Lhe slze of Lhe house, lncludlng number of bedrooms and baLhrooms, and characLerlsLlcs
of Lhe consLrucLlon, such as wood versus vlnyl sldlng or a renovaLed klLchen. We also had Lhe
address of each house and were able Lo Lherefore, locaLe each resldence wlLhln Lhe boundarles
of Lhe school dlsLrlcLs on nassau CounLy.
Figure 10. Decomposed Nassau County School Segregation
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14

Cur analyses lndlcaLe LhaL paLLerns of demographlc change, home buylng and
segregaLlon overlap wlLh Lhe early 21
sL
CenLury ºhouslng bubble" and subsequenL pop of LhaL
bubble ln lnLeresLlng ways. lor lnsLance, we found LhaL ln 2007, durlng Lhe helghL of Lhe u.S.
houslng bubble, homes ln nassau CounLy school dlsLrlcLs wlLh black/Plspanlc enrollmenLs under
10 percenL sold aL a 30 percenL premlum over homes ln ma[orlLy black and Plspanlc dlsLrlcLs
(roughly $700,000 versus $470,000). 8y 2010, however, when Lhe houslng bubble had bursL and
consequenLly Lhe predaLory lendlng and lnflaLed houslng prlces ln low-lncome nelghborhoods
decllned, homes ln dlsLrlcLs wlLh less Lhan 10 percenL black and Plspanlc enrollmenLs had
decllned ln value by less Lhan $20,000 (a 2.3 percenL decllne), whlle homes ln ma[orlLy black
dlsLrlcLs had decllned by well over $100,000 (an almosL 23 percenL decllne). 8y 2010, a house ln
a hlgh-mlnorlLy dlsLrlcL was worLh [usL over half as much as a home ln a low-mlnorlLy enrollmenL
dlsLrlcL.
ln boLh years, subsLanLlal dlfferences ln home characLerlsLlcs across low- and hlgh-
mlnorlLy dlsLrlcLs appear Lo largely explaln Lhese home prlce dlfferenLlals. Pomes ln dlsLrlcLs
wlLh proporLlonaLely fewer black and Plspanlc sLudenLs are larger ln Lerms of boLh square feeL
and loL slze, are Lyplcally newer, and have more baLhrooms and flreplaces. CounLy assessors also
award homes ln Lhese dlsLrlcLs hlgher raLlngs based on Lhe quallLy and Lype of home
consLrucLlon. unsurprlslngly, school dlsLrlcL raclal/eLhnlc composlLlon ls also LlghLly llnked wlLh
oLher dlsLrlcL characLerlsLlcs. Plgh-mlnorlLy dlsLrlcLs enroll larger proporLlons of boLh LSL
sLudenLs and Lhose who quallfy for free lunches. 8uL Lhe mosL glarlng dlsparlLles are ln school
dlsLrlcL academlc proflles. Cver Lwo full sLandard devlaLlons separaLe hlgh- and low-mlnorlLy
enrollmenL dlsLrlcLs ln Lerms of sLudenL LesL scores and posL-secondary schoollng.
1hese dlsLrlcL characLerlsLlcs are also reflecLed ln Lhe soclo-economlc backgrounds of
school dlsLrlcL resldenLs. Pousehold medlan lncome ln hlgh-mlnorlLy dlsLrlcLs ls conslderably
lower, as are adulL college compleLlon raLes. 8esldenLs ln low-mlnorlLy dlsLrlcLs are almosL Lwlce
as llkely Lo have household lncome from dlvldends, lnLeresL, and renLal properLles. lnLeresLlngly,
chlldren ln hlgh-mlnorlLy dlsLrlcLs are acLually more llkely Lo aLLend prlvaLe school. Cur goal was
Lo explore Lhe exLenL Lo whlch home values and school dlsLrlcL raclal/eLhnlc composlLlon are
llnked once we accounL for Lhese Langlble dlfferences ln home, school dlsLrlcL, and
nelghborhood characLerlsLlcs.
We employed an analyLlc approach ofLen referred Lo as a boundary flxed effecLs model,
whlch allowed us Lo esLlmaLe Lhe relaLlonshlp beLween school dlsLrlcL raclal/eLhnlc composlLlon
and home prlces for Lwo homes ln Lhe same nelghborhood LhaL were separaLed by a school
dlsLrlcL boundary. 1he models furLher conLrolled for a hosL of home, nelghborhood, and dlsLrlcL
characLerlsLlcs. 1be most powetfol floJloq to emetqe ftom tbls ooolysls ls tbot ploce (oomely
scbool Jlsttlct) ooJ tbe Jlffeteot people wbo llve ooJ qo to scbool lo tbese Jlffeteot ploces
cootlooe to mottet eveo oftet occoootloq fot tbe pbyslcol ot tooqlble poolltles of tbe bome.
1able 1 dlsplays Lhe resulLs of our boundary flxed-effecLs analyses. 1he flrsL model ln Lhe
far lefL column compares homes wlLhln 0.23 mlles of Lhe same school dlsLrlcL boundary.
Analyses uslng homes locaLed so close Lo Lhe same boundary-parLlcularly ln suburban nassau
CounLy-are qulLe llkely Lo share slmllar nelghborhood characLerlsLlcs. 1hese analyses, whlch
use 124 boundary comparlson groups, lndlcaLe no assoclaLlon beLween school dlsLrlcL
raclal/eLhnlc composlLlon and home prlces once we ad[usL for covarlaLes relaLed Lo home,
dlsLrlcL, and nelghborhood characLerlsLlcs. (1he unad[usLed black/Plspanlc composlLlon
coefflclenL ls -0.004, p<.001). ApparenLly, Lhe descrlpLlve assoclaLlons beLween 2007 home
prlces and school dlsLrlcL raclal/eLhnlc composlLlon dlsplayed ln 1able 1 can be explalned by
measured dlfferences ln home, school dlsLrlcL, and nelghborhood aLLrlbuLes. Lven afLer
15

conslderlng Lhese school dlsLrlcL and home aLLrlbuLes, homes sell for more ln hlgher-lncome,
wealLhler, and more educaLed nelghborhoods-characLerlsLlcs LhaL are obvlously sLrongly llnked
Lo school dlsLrlcL soclo-demographlc composlLlon.
1able 1. School ulsLrlcL 8aclal/LLhnlc ComposlLlon and Pome values ln nassau CounLy, 2007
0.13 Mlle 8oundary llxed LffecL Models
(n=3,347)
lull Sample
(n=11,243)
Schoo| D|str|ct Character|st|cs
¼ 8|ack]n|span|c -0.002~ -0.001 0.000 -0.001***
° LSL -0.003 -0.003 -0.002 -0.001
° free lunch 0.003** 0.003** 0.003** 0.004***
Academlc proflle
1
0.099*** 0.062*** 0.062*** 0.068***
Spendlng /pupll ($1000s) 0.003 0.002 0.002 -0.001*
1ax raLe
2
-0.003* -0.003*** -0.002** -0.006***

nome Character|st|cs
Pome age -0.001** -0.001** 0.000
Square feeL (100s) 0.002*** 0.002*** 0.002***
LoL slze (acres) 0.220** 0.204** 0.160***
# full baLhs 0.031*** 0.049*** 0.037***
# half baLhs 0.040*** 0.036*** 0.028***
# flreplaces 0.037*** 0.049*** 0.040***
Assessor grade
3
0.048*** 0.042*** 0.047***
Medlum/heavy Lrafflc -0.039 -0.033 -0.023

Ne|ghborhood
Character|st|cs

° 8lack/Plspanlc 0.000 0.000
Med. househld lnc. ($1000s) 0.001*** 0.001***
° homes non-work lnc.
4
0.001* 0.001***
° chlldren prlvaLe schools 0.000 0.000
° homes school-age chlldren 0.000 0.000
° adulLs college grads 0.001*** 0.003***

ConsLanL 13.293*** 12.348*** 12.238*** 12.343***
8
2
19.72*** 63.18*** 67.33*** 72.23***
~ p<.10, p<.03, p<.01, p<.001. CuLcome ls home sales prlce ln log dollars.
1
A composlLe measure of school dlsLrlcL academlc ouLcomes, lncludlng mean Lhlrd and elghLh grade maLhemaLlcs and Lngllsh LesL scores, new
?ork SLaLe hlgh school Lngllsh, maLhemaLlcs and physlcs 8egenLs LesL scores, and Lhe percenL of dlsLrlcL graduaLes who subsequenLly aLLended
four-year colleges and unlverslLles. Measure ls z-scored (M=0, 5u=1).
2
1ax raLe per $400,000 assessed home value
3
A 17-level measure of home quallLy where 17=ºA+", 16= ºA", 13=ºA-", eLc.
4
lncludes lncome from dlvldends, lnLeresL, and renLal lncome.
16

1he second model ln 1able 2 lncludes daLa from all homes sold ln nassau CounLy ln
2010. noLe here Lhe slgnlflcanL esLlmaLe assoclaLed wlLh school dlsLrlcL black/Plspanlc
enrollmenLs, whlch suggesLs Lhe presence of unmeasured varlable blas poLenLlally accounLed for
by Lhe flxed-effecL model ln Lhe flrsL column. 1he Lhlrd and fourLh columns employ daLa from
homes sold ln 2010.

1able 2. School ulsLrlcL 8aclal/LLhnlc ComposlLlon and Pome values ln nassau CounLy, 2010
0.13 Mlle 8oundary llxed LffecL Models
(n=3,037)
lull Sample
(n=9,924)
Schoo| D|str|ct Character|st|cs
¼ 8|ack]n|span|c -0.002 -0.002** -0.003** -0.001***
° LSL -0.001 -0.007 -0.007 -0.001
° free lunch -0.001 0.000 0.001 0.004***
Academlc proflle
1
0.094* 0.038 0.037~ 0.068***
Spendlng /pupll ($1000s) 0.001 0.001 0.000 -0.001*
1ax raLe
2
-0.003 -0.004*** -0.004*** -0.006***

nome Character|st|cs
Pome age 0.000 0.001 0.000
Square feeL (100s) 0.002*** 0.002*** 0.002***
LoL slze (acres) 0.019 0.019 0.160***
# full baLhs 0.027~ 0.027~ 0.037***
# half baLhs 0.021 0.021 0.028***
# flreplaces 0.036~ 0.034~ 0.040***
Assessor grade
3
0.093*** 0.093*** 0.047***
Medlum/heavy Lrafflc -0.010 -0.012 -0.023

Ne|ghborhood
Character|st|cs

° 8lack/Plspanlc 0.001 0.000
Med. househld lnc. ($1000s) 0.000 0.001***
° homes non-work lnc.
4
0.001 0.001***
° chlldren prlvaLe schools 0.002~ 0.000
° homes school-age chlldren 0.000 0.000
° adulLs college grads 0.000 0.003***

ConsLanL 13.092*** 11.818*** 11.788*** 12.343***
8
2
17.63*** 42.87*** 42.86*** 72.23***
~ p<.10, p<.03, p<.01, p<.001. CuLcome ls home sales prlce ln log dollars.
1
A composlLe measure of school dlsLrlcL academlc ouLcomes, lncludlng mean Lhlrd and elghLh grade maLhemaLlcs and Lngllsh LesL scores,
new ?ork SLaLe hlgh school Lngllsh, maLhemaLlcs and physlcs 8egenLs LesL scores, and Lhe percenL of dlsLrlcL graduaLes who subsequenLly
aLLended four-year colleges and unlverslLles. Measure ls z-scored (M=0, 5u=1).
2
1ax raLe per $400,000 assessed home value
3
A 17-level measure of home quallLy where 17=ºA+", 16= ºA", 13=ºA-", eLc.
4
lncludes lncome from dlvldends, lnLeresL, and renLal lncome.

lmpottootly, tbe flxeJ-effect ooolyses ooJ tbose osloq tbe foll somple botb soqqest
oeqotlve ossoclotloos betweeo scbool Jlsttlct toclol/etbolc composltloo ooJ bome voloes, eveo
oftet occoootloq fot o wlJe ottoy of covotlotes, locloJloq oelqbbotbooJ toclol/etbolc
17

composltloo ooJ boosebolJ locome. Speclflcally, boLh models lndlcaLe LhaL a one-percenL
lncrease ln black/Plspanlc enrollmenLs ls assoclaLed wlLh a 0.3 percenL decrease ln home values
(p<.001). ÞuL anoLher way, almosL $30,000 ln prlce would separaLe Lwo oLherwlse slmllar
homes, one locaLed ln a dlsLrlcL LhaL ls 30 percenL black/Plspanlc, and oLher locaLed ln a dlsLrlcL
wlLh 70 percenL black/Plspanlc enrollmenLs (glven nassau CounLy's 2010 medlan home prlce of
$413,000). 1hese flndlngs sLrongly suggesL LhaL aL leasL some proporLlon of home ºvalue"
dlfferences ln posL-morLgage lendlng frenzy era ls relaLed Lo Lhe raclal makeup of Lhe publlc
school dlsLrlcL ln whlch a home ls locaLed.



Sect|on 1hree:
Mount|ng Þressures on Suburban Commun|t|es and the|r Þub||c Schoo|s
uurlng Lhe Llme perlod ln whlch we sLudled nassau CounLy and lLs suburban schools (2008-
2013), we heard from educaLors ln vlrLually every school dlsLrlcL LhaL Lhe mounLlng pressures of
LlghL budgeLs, a new accounLablllLy sysLem wlLh a hlgh-sLakes Leacher evaluaLlon sysLem, and
Lhe growlng anLl-publlc educaLlon pollLlcs had all come down upon Lhem aL once. 1hls
confluence of facLors was ofLen referred Lo as ºLhe perfecL sLorm."
Whlle Lhe ºsLorm" was no doubL lmpacLlng all 36 publlc school dlsLrlcLs ln nassau CounLy
and beyond Lo varylng degrees, lL appears Lo have hlL Lhose dlsLrlcLs experlenclng demographlc
changes ln Lerms of Lhelr sLudenL bodles especlally hard. 1hese dlsLrlcLs, as dlscussed ln more
deLall below, are now servlng a sLudenL body wlLh dlfferenL educaLlonal needs Lhan Lhe sLudenLs
Lhey enrolled ln Lhe pasL. 1hese needs range from llmlLed Lngllsh proflclency Lo lack of healLh
care Lo Lhe greaLer demands on sLudenLs Lo Lake on famlly responslblllLles as boLh of Lhelr
parenLs work long hours Lo afford Lhelr suburban homes. 1hese lssues are hard enough Lo
address ln Lhe face of budgeL cuLs and a pressurlzed accounLablllLy sysLem. Add Lo LhaL Lhe anLl-
publlc school pollLlcs LhaL are sweeplng Lhe naLlon, and qulLe posslbly relaLed Lo Lhe changlng
demographlcs of Lhe sLudenLs and Lhe counLry, and many educaLors on Long lsland flnd
Lhemselves flghLlng an uphlll baLLle Lo malnLaln Lhelr repuLaLlons, and Lhus Lhelr aLLracLlon Lo
home buyers who can pay Lhelr properLy Laxes. A vlclous cycle ensues.
ln Lhls secLlon, we dlscuss Lhree dlmenslons of Lhe so-called ÞerfecL SLorm and quesLlon Lhe
susLalnablllLy of Lhe currenL model of fundlng, governlng and pollLlcal supporL for suburban
publlc educaLlon:
1he Þerfect Storm Þart Cne = Scarce kesources, Grow|ng Need:
When the System of Loca||y Iunded Þub||c Schoo|s 8eg|n to Ia|| Apart
Þubllc schools ln Lhe u.S. and ln new ?ork SLaLe, parLlcularly mosL of Lhose ln suburban
school dlsLrlcLs, are predomlnanLly funded by local properLy Laxes. 1hus, Lhe ablllLy of local
communlLles Lo fund schools aL a hlgh level varles lncredlbly from school dlsLrlcL Lo school
dlsLrlcL dependlng on Lhe value of Lhe properLles wlLhln LhaL dlsLrlcL and Lhe ablllLy of Lhe
properLy owners Lo supporL Lhe publlc school budgeL. As a nassau CounLy offlclal ln Lhe Lax
collecLor's offlce noLed, of all Lhe local munlclpallLles and [urlsdlcLlons ln Lhe hyper fragmenLed
nassau - e.g. Lhe Lhree Lowns, Lwo clLles and 64 vlllages - for mosL people, Lhelr local school
dlsLrlcL ls geographlcally Lhe smallesL, buL lL ls Lhe largesL porLlon of Lhelr Lax blll - usually 63 Lo
70 percenL.
lurLhermore, Lhe more commerclal properLy you have ln a dlsLrlcL, or Lhe more
lndusLrlal properLy - e.g. a local power planL -- Lhe less of a Lax and fundlng burden Lhere ls on
Lhe homeowners. Accordlng Lo one nassau CounLy superlnLendenL who has worked ln several
school dlsLrlcLs ln Lhe new ?ork ClLy meLro area, lncludlng one wlLh a power planL ln lL, Lhese
18

planLs can pay up Lo 30 or 40 percenL of Lhe local school dlsLrlcL budgeL. 1hus, someLlmes, as ls
ofLen Lhe case on Long lsland, Lhe mosL affluenL school dlsLrlcLs wlLh Lhe hlghesL properLy values
acLually have Lhe lowesL properLy Lax raLes and Lhe hlghesL per-pupll expendlLures because of
Lhe commerclal properLy locaLed ln Lhe dlsLrlcL.
ln Lhe besL of suburban Llmes, Lhls sysLem of publlc school fundlng led Lo large
dlsparlLles beLween Lhe ºhaves" and Lhe ºhave noLs." ln Lhe currenL, dlfflculL economlc suburban
Llmes, as more of Lhe affluenL prospecLlve home buyers move lnLo luxury condos ln Lhe clLy, Lhls
sysLem beglns Lo unravel because only Lhe mosL affluenL of Lhese geographlcally small, hlghly
fragmenLed school dlsLrlcLs can susLaln Lhemselves - and even Lhey are sLruggllng. 1o make
maLLers even worse, Lhls model of a self-susLalnlng suburban publlc educaLlon sysLem ls on Lhe
brlnk of dlsasLer aL Lhe very momenL LhaL lLs sLudenL body ls shlfLlng from predomlnanLly whlLe
and worklng-Lo-upper-mlddle-class Lo lncreaslngly raclally and eLhnlcally dlverse and less
affluenL overall.
Clven Lhese changlng Llmes and Lhe shaky feaslblllLy of Lhe self-susLalnlng suburban
fundlng model, lL ls no wonder LhaL ln 2011, Lhe new ?ork SLaLe leglslaLure passed a properLy
Lax cap law, whlch requlres Lhe local governmenLs and school dlsLrlcLs Lo ralse Laxes by no more
Lhan Lwo percenL per year or aL raLe of lnflaLlon, whlchever ls less. Any overrlde of Lhe cap musL
be supporLed by 60 percenL of Lhe voLers ln Lhe local communlLy. 1hls Lwo percenL properLy Lax
cap, coupled wlLh Lhe slow economy, a sLlll weak houslng markeL, and Lhe rlslng cosL of school
dlsLrlcL employee healLh care and penslons, forced all buL one of Lhe school boards ln Lwelve
nassau CounLy dlsLrlcLs we sLudled Lo cuL Lhelr regular operaLlng budgeLs.
1hese budgeL consLralnLs were real and felL across boLh affluenL and poorer school
dlsLrlcLs. 8ecause of Lhe fundlng formula, mosL school dlsLrlcLs are heavlly rellanL on local
revenues for 60-70 percenL of lLs LoLal fundlng. 1hls dependence on local revenue ls problemaLlc
on several levels, noL Lhe leasL of whlch ls LhaL lL perpeLuaLes maLerlal lnequallLy across dlsLrlcL
boundarles, whlle leavlng each ºLub" or school dlsLrlcL on lLs own boLLom.
Lven ln school dlsLrlcLs LhaL are noL sLruggllng, Lhls sysLem of fundlng ls sLarLlng Lo welgh
heavlly on Lhe local communlLy. Accordlng Lo one school board member ln a school dlsLrlcL of
very affluenL, predomlnanLly whlLe homeowners:
. we geL very llLLle, almosL no governmenL ald, so essenLlally Lhe 93
mllllon dollar budgeL LhaL we have, all save 4 Lo 3 mllllon dollars, ls borne
by our resldenLs. 1haL ls a Lremendous challenge - Lremendous. And now
wlLh Lhe economy, Lhe way lL's been has been an lncreaslng burden on
Lhe resldenLs of Lhe dlsLrlcL. l mean. aL Lhls polnL ln Llme we wanL Lo
malnLaln whaL we have and lmprove quallLy where we can, buL we're noL
aL a polnL now where we're golng Lo be expandlng wlLh a loL of new
programs and a loL of new Lhlngs.

1hls school board member noLed LhaL her dlsLrlcL ls focused now on malnLalnlng whaL lL
has and keeplng Lhe dlsLrlcL lnLacL and as poslLlve and as sLrong as Lhey can glven Lhe flnanclal
consLralnLs. She dld noLe, however, LhaL desplLe Lhe hlsLory of communlLy supporL for publlc
educaLlon, people have been hlL hard over Lhe lasL few years by Lhe bad economy. She
explalned LhaL ºl don'L Lhlnk Lhere ls anybody who llves ln Lhls Lown LhaL doesn'L know
somebody who losL a [ob or seen savlngs erode or everyLhlng else."
ln all Lhe dlsLrlcLs we sLudled, school board members and admlnlsLraLors Lalked abouL
rlslng healLh care and penslon cosLs for school dlsLrlcL employees. ln a sLronger economy, when
more school dlsLrlcL consLlLuenLs are worklng and able Lo pay hlgh properLy Laxes, Lhe rlslng cosL
of Lhese flnanclal commlLmenLs ls dlfflculL enough Lo susLaln. 8uL when Lax payers even ln Lhe
19

more mlddle and upper-mlddle class communlLles are sLruggllng Lo malnLaln Lhelr flscal
commlLmenLs, Lhe burden of paylng for publlc school dlsLrlcL employees' beneflLs has become
overbearlng - boLh pollLlcally and flnanclally. Accordlng Lo a school board presldenL ln an
affluenL nassau CounLy school dlsLrlcL wlLh hlgh properLy values and per-pupll expendlLures,
l Lhlnk Lhe healLh care cosLs and Lhe reLlremenL cosLs, whlch for [our dlsLrlcL]
was assessed somewhere around $80 mllllon dollars ln our acLuary reporL abouL
Lhree years ago or four years ago, l'm sure lLs hlgher now. 1haL's a real llablllLy.
lL's gonna show up ln Lhe slze of Lhe budgeL LhaL Lhe publlc sees. never mlnd
Lrylng Lo malnLaln Lhe quallLy of educaLlon and plan for Lhe klnd of educaLlon a
graduaLe [needs now].
ln Lhe less affluenL communlLles, Lhls sLruggle for people Lo keep supporLlng school
budgeLs and Lhe local publlc schools, especlally as Lhe demographlcs of Lhe sLudenL populaLlon
shlfLs more qulckly Lhan Lhe resldenLlal populaLlon, ls becomlng even more problemaLlc. ln
Lhese dlsLrlcLs, Lhe older homeowners, mosL of whom llve on flxed lncomes, are predomlnanLly
whlLe. Meanwhlle, Lhe publlc school populaLlon ls now more Lhan 30 percenL black and
Plspanlc.
ln one such dlsLrlcL where Lhe sLudenL populaLlon ls now abouL 70 percenL black and
Plspanlc, Lhe local school board conducLed a demographlc sLudy of Lhe voLers and found LhaL
only a Lhlrd of resldenLs had chlldren ln publlc schools, and Lhe resL were elLher couples wlLh no
chlldren or senlor clLlzens. 1hey also found LhaL mosL of Lhelr senlors had grown chlldren who
had aLLended Lhe dlsLrlcL's schools ln a prlor era when lL had been predomlnanLly whlLe.
1he school board member noLed LhaL Lhese senlors are Lhe ones who geL nervous abouL
demographlc change because Lhey are worrled abouL Lhelr properLy values. º1hey wanL Lhe
level of Lhe schools Lo sLay where Lhey are so Lhelr properLy values don'L drop, so Lhey are very
lnvolved and concerned abouL lL. 8emember a loL of Lhose parenLs, Lhose senlor clLlzens, when
Lhelr klds were ln school lL was a llly whlLe dlsLrlcL and lL's noL anymore, so lL makes Lhem
nervous." 1hls board member added LhaL Lhe dlsLrlcL has been Lrylng ºLo wln Lhese elderly voLes
over" by sendlng sLudenLs down Lhe block Lo Lhe senlor cenLer. º?ou know Lhlngs llke LhaL, so l
Lhlnk we're keeplng people lnvolved ln Lhe schools as much as we can."
ln anoLher nassau CounLy school dlsLrlcL LhaL has shlfLed from abouL 83 percenL whlLe ln
1993 Lo abouL 40° whlLe Loday, Lhe superlnLended clLed several efforLs Lo reach ouL Lo Lhe local
aglng whlLe populaLlon Lo garner supporL for a school dlsLrlcL LhaL no longer looks llke Lhe publlc
schools Lhelr klds aLLended. Pe sald LhaL he goes Lo senlor clLlzens luncheons several Llmes a
year. Pe descrlbed Lhe senlor populaLlon as Lhe ºfolks who have llved ln [here] for 40, 30, 60
years, some of Lhem all Lhelr llves and Lhey're ln Lhelr 80's now, and Lhey love lL here. ?ou know
lf anyLhlng Lhey don'L wanL Lo leave. 1hey're sLruggllng Lo make ends meeL as you can lmaglne
on a flxed lncome. 1hey wlll acLually apologlze Lo me lf Lhe budgeL number ls Lough on Lhem.
1hey'll say gee we're so sorry buL my soclal securlLy check, l wanL Lo do more, and we geL LhaL,
and Lhose are Lhe senlor clLlzens. 1hey're preLLy supporLlve conslderlng Lhe lssues LhaL Lhey
may be faclng."
AL Lhe same Llme, Lhe asslsLanL superlnLendenL ln Lhls dlsLrlcL noLed LhaL Lhe dlsLrlcL
feels a greaL deal of pressure Lo keep Lhe school quallLy hlgh ln order Lo keep more affluenL
famllles - generally Lhe whlLe famllles who have llved ln Lhls dlsLrlcL longer - from movlng ouL.
She noLed LhaL ln her efforL Lo reach ouL Lo Lhese parenLs, she wanLs Lo form a group of Lhese
parenLs ºwe wanL Lo keep here, who are lnLeresLed ln hlgh quallLy."
She and Lhe superlnLendenL boLh noLed LhaL Lhey are dolng all Lhey can Lo make sure
Lhose parenLs don'L leave and Lake Lhelr properLy Lax dollars wlLh Lhem. 1hese parenLs, she
noLed, ºwanL Lhelr chlldren challenged, Lhey wlll noL sLay lf we don'L challenge Lhelr chlldren."
20

?eL, aL Lhe same Llme Lhls asslsLanL superlnLendenL noLed LhaL wlLh Lhe lmpendlng budgeL cuLs,
Lhls ls more dlfflculL Lo do, especlally when Lhere are more sLudenLs and more needs Lo serve.
8urgeonlng LnrollmenLs and SLudenL MoblllLy
As we noLed above, as of 2013, Lhere are only 18 nassau CounLy school dlsLrlcLs ln
whlch Lhe sLudenL populaLlons are sLlll predomlnanLly (more Lhan 80 percenL) whlLe, non-
Plspanlc. 1hls means LhaL Lhe vasL ma[orlLy of school dlsLrlcLs ln nassau CounLy are faclng rapld
demographlc changes and ln many cases, a large lnflux of sLudenLs as larger and more famllles
move Lo Lhe suburbs.
We know from our lnLervlews ln 9 of Lhe 12 dlsLrlcLs we sLudled where sLudenL
populaLlons had changed slgnlflcanLly over Lhe lasL Lhree decades, LhaL noL only are Lhese
educaLors now servlng sLudenLs wlLh addlLlonal educaLlonal needs such as blllngual educaLlon,
buL Lhey are also ofLen servlng mote sLudenLs as new suburban resldenLs. Accordlng Lo several
reporLs, newer suburban famllles are more llkely Lo house exLended famlly members or renLers
ln one ºslngle" famlly home. 1hls ls ln facL, a naLlonal Lrend ln suburbla, reporLed ln Lhe news
medla, as more moderaLe-lncome and poor famllles move Lo Lhe suburbs (8erube and
kneebone, 2006).
Cn Long lsland, Lhe demographlc changes are puLLlng pressure on local munlclpallLles Lo
make way for more mlxed-lncome and mulLl-famlly houslng. 1hls has become an on-golng baLLle
beLween falr houslng advocaLes and bullders on Lhe one hand versus local Lown and vlllage
zonlng boards on Lhe oLher. Accordlng Lo an experL on bulldlng and developmenL lssues on Long
lsland, Lhe pollLlcal reslsLance Lo bulldlng such mulLlple-famlly houslng unlLs ln Lhe suburbs ls
flerce, whlch means no local zonlng board wlll allow such developmenL plans Lo move forward
desplLe growlng demand ln Lhe suburban houslng markeL. ºlL's Lhe local pollLlcs and Lhe zonlng
boards Lake Lhelr cue from Lhe people. 1hey don'L make Lhls up."
ln Lhe mldsL of Lhls pollLlcal lmpasse, one way for clLy-Lo-suburban mlgranLs Lo work
around Lhe lack of mulLl-famlly dwelllngs ls Lo creaLe Lhem ouL of slngle-famlly homes. 1hls,
however, creaLes more pressure on Lhe local school dlsLrlcL because Lhe same house ls
generaLlng abouL Lhe same amounL of properLy Laxes per assessed value as lL dld when only one
famlly and fewer school-age chlldren llved Lhere.
Such shared llvlng spaces are referred Lo as ºlllegal aparLmenLs" ln some school dlsLrlcLs
where Lhe local zonlng ls for slngle famlly and noL Lwo-famlly homes. Accordlng Lo one asslsLanL
superlnLendenL ln a school dlsLrlcL LhaL has changed dramaLlcally ln Lerms of Lhe raclal and
eLhnlc makeup of lLs school age populaLlon- from over 90° whlLe ln 1993 Lo less Lhan 30° whlLe
ln 2012.
SomeLlmes people say well l'll renL ouL Lhe basemenL and l'll geL some
exLra money. 1he problem ls LhaL lL may noL be up Lo code or lf you have
a legal Lwo famlly home lL's Laxed aL a dlfferenL raLe so you're noL paylng
your falr share of Lhe Laxes. lf you geL Lwo aparLmenLs you're gonna
generaLe more garbage, you're gonna need more servlces and a loL of
Lhose basemenL aparLmenLs are noL really up Lo code. lL's problemaLlc.
ln facL, Lhls ls especlally problemaLlc for Lhe publlc schools LhaL are now educaLlng more
sLudenLs per ºslngle famlly" houses. lurLhermore, as Lhe educaLlonal and soclal servlce needs of
Lhe lncomlng sLudenLs lncrease, and Lhe need for more faclllLles and space ls compounded. As
one school superlnLendenL who was Lhe head of a CounLy-wlde organlzaLlon of school
admlnlsLraLors aL Lhe Llme we lnLervlewed hlm, explalned:
.We have schools on Long lsland. LhaL 30 years ago comforLably housed
elghLeen hundred klds, a hlgh school, where now would be bursLlng aL
Lhe seams wlLh more Lhan Lwelve hundred. 8ooms have been wholesale
21

Lurned lnLo speclalLy rooms for servlclng klds wlLh dlsablllLles, for
provldlng occupaLlonal Lherapy, for provldlng physlcal Lherapy, for
provldlng more enhanced muslc, more enhanced sclence, you know arL or
whaLever else you mlghL have, more forelgn language, more Lhls, more
LhaL. ?ou don'L have Lhe space because you're uslng lL for programs LhaL
never exlsLed. So LhaL's one reason why, one ma[or reason why Lhe cosLs
have gone up ls Lhe sLandard of demand on schools
Many nassau CounLy publlc schools are forced Lo address Lhese lssues amld budgeL cuLs
and concerns abouL malnLalnlng academlc ºquallLy." Accordlng Lo one superlnLendenL of a
dlsLrlcL LhaL ls also faclng a rapld LranslLlon ln lLs school age populaLlon, whlch reflecLs whaL he
called ºclLy dynamlcs" buL wlLhouL Lhe urban lnfrasLrucLure, such as healLh cenLers and more
soclal workers, Lo address Lhese needs.
We have cerLalnly more youngsLers wlLh Leenage pregnancy Lhan Len
years ago.small numbers buL a noLlceable change. Maybe lLs seven ln
one year versus one ok.LhaL Lype of Lhlng. We have more klds lnvolved
ln Lhe crlmlnal [usLlce sysLem. We have more [Chlld ÞroLecLlve Servlces]
CÞS referrals. Lherefore our admlnlsLraLors are spendlng more Llme Lhan
Lhey would have Len years ago or ln oLher all WhlLe suburban school
dlsLrlcLs, lnvolved ln Lhe sysLems ouLslde of educaLlon because of Lhe
needs. lL's sLlll a small number of chlldren, buL very Llme consumlng and
we're noL equlpped llke ln Lhe clLy [where] you could have a healLh cenLer
as parL of Lhe school. We don'L have LhaL.
1hls parLlcular superlnLendenL, who has worked ln several suburban school dlsLrlcLs over
hls long career, noLed LhaL one of hls ma[or complalnLs abouL how suburban publlc educaLlon ls
nesLed wlLhln a hlghly fragmenLed CounLy governance sLrucLure ls LhaL Lhe soclal servlces LhaL
could help Lhe sLudenLs hls dlsLrlcL now serves elLher do noL exlsL or Lhey are so fragmenLed LhaL
only some of Lhe sLudenLs enrolled ln hls school dlsLrlcL llve ln Lhe rlghL munlclpallLy Lo access
Lhem. Pe noLed, for lnsLance, LhaL hls school dlsLrlcL has pleces of Lhree dlfferenL vlllages ln lL,
and LhaL each of Lhese ls so small LhaL Lhey do noL provlde any helpful servlces for sLudenLs.
ºCne of my ma[or complalnLs, agaln who am l Lalklng Lo.Lhe wall? - ls Lhe governance sLrucLure
of nassau CounLy.. Lhe whole Lhlng ls lnsane because you have Lhe Lhree Lowns and Lhe Lwo
small clLles. Lhen Lhere are vlllages.. Lach of Lhese enLlLles are so small LhaL Lhey don'L provlde
any servlces oLher Lhan roads." Lven when servlces may be avallable, Lhls degree of
fragmenLaLlon makes Lhem dlfflculL Lo locaLe, parLlcularly for Lhose new Lo suburbla and recenL
lmmlgranLs.
1hls superlnLendenL and oLhers we lnLervlewed noLed LhaL ldeally, Lhe needed soclal
servlces would be locaLed ln Lhe suburban publlc schools - or aL leasL coordlnaLed Lhrough a
collaboraLlon beLween Lhe schools and local servlce provlders. Pe noLed LhaL under Lhe currenL
fragmenLed governance sLrucLure, Lhe counLy cannoL provlde Lhe needed healLh servlces for all
36 school dlsLrlcLs,
º1he governance sLrucLure deflnes Lhe lnablllLy Lo address many of Lhe ma[or problems Lhrough
good plannlng."
ln addlLlon Lo Lhe greaLer soclal servlce needs of currenL suburban sLudenLs, Lhey are
also far more LranslenL, meanlng LhaL Lhere ls a much greaLer Lurnover ln sLudenL populaLlon
Lhan Len years ago. ln some dlsLrlcLs, especlally Lhose close Lo Lhe 8elmonL 8ace 1rack, whlch ls
a seasonal employer of low-skllled laborers, Lhey see beLween 10 and 23 percenL of Lhelr
chlldren comlng ln or leavlng durlng Lhe school year. As one superlnLendenL Lold us, Lhls hlgh
22

Lurnover raLe affecLs Leachers' ablllLy Lo plan Lhelr currlculum because ºa quarLer of Lhe
sLudenLs are noL Lhe same sLudenLs who sLarLed ln Lhe fall."
CuLLlng key 8esources needed for a Crowlng Plgh-needs SLudenL ÞopulaLlon:
1he CosL of uolng LducaLlon 8lghL ln Lhe Changlng Suburbs
uesplLe efforLs Lo wln local voLers over Lo supporL school budgeLs, school boards who
are now faced wlLh Lhe ÞroperLy 1ax Cap as well as Lhe mounLlng cosLs of Lhe employee beneflLs
are forced Lo make dlfflculL budgeLary cholces. All Lhls ls welghlng on dlsLrlcLs as Lhe newly
arrlved suburban sLudenLs are enLerlng Lhe schools wlLh greaLer academlc and soclal needs. Cne
dlsLrlcL we sLudled LhaL has seen a large lnflux of lower-lncome lmmlgranL famllles has declded
Lo dlsconLlnue a klndergarLen program housed aL cenLrallzed cenLer and deslgned Lo prepare all
chlldren for 1
sL
grade.
A school board member for Lhls dlsLrlcL noLed LhaL Lhe board was very careful wlLh Lhe
budgeL noL Lo curLall any of Lhe dlsLrlcLs educaLlonal offerlngs, buL Lo do oLher Lhlngs llke puL off
some caplLal pro[ecLs and geL rld of school securlLy, who was replaced wlLh cameras and a
sysLem LhaL buzzes people lnLo Lhe schools. 1hey also Lrled Lo ellmlnaLe one of Lhe dlsLrlcL's
soclal workers, buL Lhere was an ouLcry from Lhe parenLs, so Lhe board ºfound a way" Lo keep
her employed. 1hls board member noLed LhaL ºlL's really hard! 'Cause you don'L wanL Lo
ellmlnaLe anyLhlng. ?ou know, you cerLalnly don'L wanL Lo cuL programs, you know?"
1he sLory of budgeL cuLs lnLersecLlng wlLh changlng and more needy sLudenL
populaLlons ls a common refraln across Lhe now more raclally and eLhnlcally dlverse school
dlsLrlcLs ln nassau CounLy. 1he cosL of speclal servlces for recenL lmmlgranLs and low-lncome
sLudenLs add up qulckly Lo place more pressure on Lhe dlsLrlcLs, as do Lhe pressures from
lederal and SLaLe laws regulaLlng speclal and blllngual educaLlon. 1hese speclal servlces and Lhe
experLlse requlred of Leachers and sLaff Lo lnLegraLe Lhese sLudenLs lnLo Lhe regular classrooms
are ºunfunded mandaLes" as local school dlsLrlcL offlclals are qulck Lo noLe, and Lhey add
anoLher layer of flscal burden onLo Lhe dlsLrlcLs.
As one school board member ln an lncreaslngly dlverse dlsLrlcL explalned: ºWe're really
maklng every efforL Lo really lnLegraLe Lhe Lngllsh Language Learners, and even Lhe Speclal Ld
klds lnLo Lhe maln sLream, so. l mean, you know, lf Lhey're pulled ouL for speech or Lhey geL
addlLlonal speech help or LLL servlces you know, whaLever lL Lakes Lo geL Lhem Lo be parL of Lhe
malnsLream of Lhe school fabrlc, LhaL's whaL we're Lrylng Lo do."
AL Lhe same Llme, several dlsLrlcL admlnlsLraLors menLloned LhaL Lhey are Lrylng Lo ralse
ouLslde, prlvaLe and phllanLhroplc fundlng Lo cover Lhelr growlng cosLs Lo educaLe Lhelr
changlng sLudenL populaLlons. ln a sorL of CaLch 22 LhaL goes back Lo Lhe demographlc mls-
maLch beLween older resldenLs and Lhe sLudenL populaLlon ln Lhese rapldly changlng school
dlsLrlcLs, one superlnLendenL noLed LhaL Lhere are granLs for low-lncome or raclally dlverse
commooltles LhaL he cannoL apply for because Lhey are based on Lhe demographlcs of Lhe enLlre
communlLy raLher Lhan on Lhe 2,200 boys and glrls LhaL are ln Lhe school dlsLrlcL. ºSo
someLlmes you know lf LhaL demographlc could be exLrapolaLed Lo Lhe enLlre communlLy we
mlghL be able Lo recelve some addlLlonal granL opporLunlLles, buL lL's noL Lhe way lL's done."
ulfferenL ConsLlLuenLs ln lncreaslngly ulverse School ulsLrlcLs Pave ulfferenL 8udgeL ÞrlorlLles
As school dlsLrlcL budgeLs shrlnk and palnful cuLs Lake place each year, local consLlLuenLs
ofLen dlsagree abouL whaL should be cuL and whaL should be prlorlLlzed and preserved. 1hls can
be an lssue even ln a raclally or eLhnlcally more homogeneous school dlsLrlcL. 8uL when
resldenLlal and school-age populaLlons are changlng ln Lerms of Lhe raclal and eLhnlc makeup as
well as Lhelr naLlonal and culLural ldenLlLles, dlfferences ln prlorlLles are ofLen demographlc
dlvldlng llnes.
23

ln Lwo of Lhe 12 school dlsLrlcLs LhaL we sLudled ln nassau CounLy, we conducLed more
ln depLh and case sLudles of one of Lhelr schools. 8oLh of Lhese Lwo school dlsLrlcLs had been
predomlnanLly whlLe as laLe as Lhe 1990s or early 2000s. 8y 2013, one of Lhe schools LhaL we
sLudled was more Lhan 30 percenL Aslan and Lhe resL of Lhe sLudenLs were whlLe, mosLly
chlldren of longer-Lerm resldenLs of Lhe area. 1he oLher school was only abouL 13 percenL whlLe,
wlLh a mlx of 8lack, Plspanlc and Aslan (mosLly souLheasL Aslan) sLudenLs.
ln Lhe school dlsLrlcL servlng Lhe Aslan and whlLe sLudenLs, Lhe annual budgeLlng process
had become exLremely Lense.
ulfferenL ConsLlLuenLs ln lncreaslngly ulverse School ulsLrlcLs Pave ulfferenL 8udgeL ÞrlorlLles
As school dlsLrlcL budgeLs shrlnk and palnful cuLs Lake place each year, local consLlLuenLs
ofLen dlsagree abouL whaL should be cuL and whaL should be prlorlLlzed and preserved. 1hls can
be an lssue even ln more raclally or eLhnlcally homogeneous school dlsLrlcLs. 8uL when
resldenLlal and school-age populaLlons are changlng ln Lerms of Lhe raclal and eLhnlc makeup as
well as Lhelr naLlonal and culLural ldenLlLles across demographlc dlvldlng llnes, culLural
dlfferences make local declslon maklng conLenLlous.
We conducLed ln-depLh case sLudles aL hlgh schools ln Lwo of Lhe 12 school dlsLrlcLs LhaL
we sLudled ln nassau CounLy. 8oLh of Lhese school dlsLrlcLs had been predomlnanLly whlLe as
laLe as Lhe 1990s or early 2000s, buL have experlenced dlfferenL forms of demographlc change ln
recenL years. 8y 2013, one of Lhem was more Lhan 30 percenL Aslan and Lhe resL of Lhe sLudenLs
were whlLe, chlldren of longer-Lerm resldenLs of Lhe area. 1he oLher dlsLrlcL was only abouL 13
percenL whlLe, wlLh a mlx of black, Plspanlc and Aslan (mosLly Mlddle-LasLern, lndlan and
souLheasL Aslan) sLudenLs.
ln Lhe school dlsLrlcL servlng Lhe Aslan and whlLe sLudenLs, Lhe annual budgeLlng process
had become exLremely conLenLlous. As Lhe presldenL of Lhe dlsLrlcL-wlde Þ1A noLed, Lhls dlsLrlcL
sLruggles Lo pass lLs budgeL each year. ºl cannoL Lell you how hard we've worked Lo pass Lhose
budgeLs, llke llLerally we've been aL carpool llnes glvlng Lhem flyers or Lalklng Lo parenLs. Cars
have Lrled Lo run us over. Þeople have shown Lhelr shorLesL flngers. lL's noL been pleasanL. And
noL [usL Lo me, parenLs who volunLeered." She chalked up Lhe Lenslon ln Lhls mlddle- Lo upper-
mlddle-class dlsLrlcL Lo Lhe larger economlc slLuaLlon, as more people are unemployed or
underemployed. 8uL, she also added LhaL even before Lhe economy wenL bad, lL was a
challenge. ºl mean ours was a dlsLrlcL LhaL kllled Lhe budgeL by one voLe lasL year -- one voLe --
and Lhen we had Lo go Lhrough Lhe second process agaln."
1hls Þ1A ÞresldenL and many oLher people lnLervlewed ln Lhls dlsLrlcL noLed LhaL Lhe
budgeL lmpasse played lLself ouL along raclal and eLhnlc llnes, wlLh Lhe Aslan parenLs more llkely
Lo be advocaLlng for program such as glfLed educaLlon, Lhe orchesLra, or more AÞ classes, and
Lhe whlLe parenLs advocaLlng for Lhe LheaLer program, aLhleLlcs and speclal educaLlon servlces.
Whlle Lhls ls an over generallzaLlon and Lhere are people who do noL flL Lhls raclal dlvlde, Lhe
pollLlcs around Lhe school board budgeL Lends Lo play ouL ln raclal Lerms.
As one of Lhe school board members ln Lhls dlsLrlcL, who ls whlLe, noLed, ln recenL
budgeL negoLlaLlons, Lhe board was on Lhe verge of cuLLlng fundlng for Lhe hlgh school play buL
changed lLs mlnd because a group of whlLe sLudenLs and parenLs came Lo Lhe board meeLlng Lo
proLesL. When he reallzed LhaL he, as a faLher of four chlldren ln Lhe dlsLrlcL, knew Lhese
chlldren and Lhey weren'L Lhe popular klds and Lhey weren'L Lhe hlghesL achlevlng sLudenLs,
º8uL Lhey llved for Lhls one play. And lf Lhey cuL LhaL play lL would have been cuLLlng Lhelr
needs, we couldn'L leL LhaL happen. We had Lo flgure ouL way Lo do lL." Pe wenL on Lo explaln
LhaL ln Lhls day and age, Lhe focus can someLlme be placed Loo heavlly on academlcs aL Lhe
expense of everyLhlng else. Pe also clLed Lhe Lenslon ln Lhe dlsLrlcL beLween Lhe Aslan and whlLe
24

famllles abouL whaL Lhe prlorlLy should be and noLed LhaL ºlL's a Lough balance and LhaL Lhe
economy has noL helped anybody" - leadlng Lo more flghLlng over scarce resources.
AnoLher school board member noLed LhaL people move Lo Lhls dlsLrlcL because of Lhe
ouLsLandlng academlc repuLaLlon LhaL lL has, and Lhe parenLs are very supporLlve for Lhe mosL
parL of LhaL educaLlon. 1hls repuLaLlon has, ln recenL years, conLrlbuLed Lo Lhe lnflux of Aslan
famllles º. 8uL Lhe blggesL lssue now ls gonna be how do you malnLaln LhaL educaLlon ln Loday's
economlc Llmes?... 1he board's blggesL problem wlll be [lnaudlble].ln Lhe pasL Len years or so
probably aL leasL. Money ls LlghL."
1hls someLlmes leads Lo raclal dlvlslons. lor lnsLance, a recenL blLLer and conLesLed
school board elecLlon plLLed an Aslan agalnsL a whlLe candldaLe. 1he Aslan candldaLe, who
ulLlmaLely losL Lhe elecLlon, noLed LhaL aL leasL parL of Lhe reason why she dld noL wln was her
raclal/eLhnlc background. She sald: ºl was Lhe mosL quallfled candldaLe and people knew whaL l
had done, buL lL had a loL Lo do wlLh my.because Lhey LhoughL LhaL lf somebody llke l was on
Lhe board Lhen l would be all for AÞs and all for Lhls and l wouldn'L be for Lhe average chlld,
whlch was never Lhe LruLh."
1he Lenslons over Lhe budgeL and school board elecLlons ln Lhls one dlsLrlcL help Lo
lllusLraLe Lhe ofLen conLenLlous relaLlonshlp beLween demographlc change and a scarclLy of
resources ln Amerlcan suburbs Loday. We use Lhls one case sLudy and a seL of lssues dlscussed
by vlrLually everyone we lnLervlewed Lhere Lo underscore Lhls relaLlonshlp. ln oLher dlsLrlcLs, as
we noLed above, Lhls Lenslon ls also lnLergeneraLlonal as older whlLe resldenLs on flxed lncomes
flnd lL harder Lo supporL publlc schools for sLudenLs of color - for economlc and pollLlcal
reasons.
Measur|ng and kank|ng Increas|ng|y D|verse Þub||c Schoo|s:
Chang|ng Suburbs |n the Lra of Accountab|||ty as the Second Iactor |n the "Þerfect Storm"
AL Lhe same Llme LhaL Lhe raclal/eLhnlc demographlcs of our school-age populaLlon has
shlfLed dramaLlcally, pollcy makers ln Lhe u.S. have lncreased ofLen well-lnLended efforLs Lo
bulld a beLLer and more unlform educaLlonal accounLablllLy sysLem. lndeed, over Lhe lasL Lhree
decades, publlc schools ln Lhe u.S. have been requlred Lo measure sLudenL learnlng wlLh greaLer
frequency vla sLaLe-mandaLed sLandardlzed LesLs. 8eglnnlng wlLh compeLency, or baslc skllls,
LesLs ln Lhe laLe 1970s, Lhe ldea LhaL Lhe ºvalue" of publlc educaLlon can be deplcLed ln a few
LesL scores has become commonly accepLed.
Slnce 1994, as suburbs were becomlng lncreaslngly raclally and eLhnlcally dlverse, Lhe
federal governmenL has played a cenLral role ln Lhe accounLablllLy movemenL, forclng sLaLes Lo
esLabllsh an accounLablllLy sysLem or lose federal fundlng. AL Lhe same Llme, Lhe accounLablllLy
reform movemenL has grown lncreaslngly unlform, and has glven way Lo a naLlonal
accounLablllLy sysLem known as Lhe naLlonal Common Core SLaLe SLandards and assessmenLs,
now adopLed by 43 sLaLes (Common Core SLandards lnlLlaLlve, 2012).
lnlLlally, sLandardlzed LesLs ln k-12 educaLlon were used malnly Lo ldenLlfy sLudenLs who
were falllng or Lhose who were advanced enough Lo earn college credlL ln hlgh school. Slnce Lhe
lncepLlon of No cbllJ left 8ebloJ, LesLs have been used Lo measure achlevemenL for all sLudenLs
from grade 3 Lhrough hlgh school (Lln, 2001). lncreaslngly, Lhe LesLs are also belng used Lo
evaluaLe Leachers and Lhelr schools: 1he no Chlld LefL 8ehlnd AcL requlred sLaLes noL only Lo
lncrease Lhe number of LesLs sLudenLs Look - beglnnlng ln 3
rd
grade and noL endlng unLll hlgh
school - buL also Lo publlsh on-llne school reporL cards based largely on LesL scores (LducaLlon
Week, 2004).
ln 2010, ln order Lo quallfy for federal 8ace Lo Lhe 1op funds, Lhe new ?ork SLaLe
leglslaLure passed a new Leacher and prlnclpal accounLablllLy law, puLLlng lnLo place an
accounLablllLy sysLem known as Lhe Annual Þrofesslonal Þerformance 8evlew (AÞÞ8). 1hls
25

revlew process effecLlvely raLes educaLors accordlng Lo several facLors, lncludlng observaLlons of
Lhelr Leachlng and sLudenL ouLcomes, lnLo one of four caLegorles: Plghly LffecLlve, LffecLlve,
ueveloplng LffecLlveness or lneffecLlve. 1he AÞÞ8 can be one facLor affecLlng Leacher or
prlnclpal dlsmlssal under Lhe sLaLe law (see n?S LducaLlon ueparLmenL, 2014).
AL Lhe very momenL LhaL Lhe k-12 sLudenL populaLlon dlps below 30 percenL whlLe, non-
Plspanlc, LesL scores, more Lhan any oLher form of lnformaLlon abouL publlc educaLlon, have
now been made wldely avallable Lo Lhe general publlc and are used Lo assess Lhe ºquallLy" of
each school. ln Lhls way, Lhe new sysLem also perpeLuaLes and even leglLlmlzes a process of
raclal segregaLlon due Lo a sLrong negaLlve correlaLlon beLween Lhe percenLage of black and
Plspanlc chlldren ln a school and lLs average LesL scores (8oLhsLeln, 2013, 1lenken and Zhao,
2013, Wells and Polme, 2006). 1here are many culLural and soclal explanaLlons for Lhls
correlaLlon LhaL are noL an lndlcLmenL of black and Plspanlc sLudenLs' lnLelllgence, alLhough
Lhose are Loo rarely dlscussed. Meanwhlle, lf LesL scores are Lhe only measure of school quallLy
LhaL recelve any aLLenLlon, Lhen schools LhaL are noL predomlnanLly whlLe, and/or Aslan are
rarely consldered ºgood."
A veLeran Lngllsh mlddle school Leacher aL one of our case sLudy schools explalned LhaL
Lhls rlse of Lhe LesL-drlven accounLablllLy sysLem has fosLered a one-dlmenslonal comparlson of
school dlsLrlcLs LhaL dlffer dramaLlcally ln Lerms of Lhelr sLudenL populaLlons and approaches Lo
Leachlng and learnlng. She noLed LhaL when Lhe sLaLe LLA exams were flrsL lssued, Lhey were
lnLended Lo leL you know whlch sLudenLs needed remedlaLlon before movlng on Lo hlgh school
so LhaL Lhe Leachers could lnLervene and help Lhe sLudenLs learn Lhe skllls Lhey were lacklng.
1hls Leacher also noLed LhaL ln Lhe laLe 1990s and 2000s, as her suburban school dlsLrlcL
populaLlon was shlfLlng from predomlnanLly whlLe Lo abouL 13 percenL whlLe wlLh Lhe remalnlng
83 percenL conslsLlng of a comblnaLlon of oLher raclal and eLhnlc groups, Lhe pollcy focus on
accounLablllLy ºchanged enLlrely." Suddenly, she noLed Lhe accounLablllLy movemenL became
much more ºhlgh sLakes" and all consumlng: ºSo lL really changed lLs focus and lLs purpose
LhroughouL Lhe years. now we're ln a LesLlng culLure. º. 1hls long-Llme Leacher and all of Lhe
Leachers and school admlnlsLraLors we lnLervlewed all agreed LhaL Lhere should be a sysLem of
accounLablllLy and assessmenLs LhaL lnform lnsLrucLlon. 8uL, she added, ºLhere should be a
balance, and we're always lacklng ln balance l Lhlnk."
When such pressures Lo produce hlgh LesL scores are placed on schools ln a manner LhaL
sLrongly correlaLes Lo Lhe race and class of Lhe sLudenLs, Lhen efforLs Lo creaLe more
raclally/eLhnlcally dlverse schools are framed as Lhough whlLe and Aslan famllles are ºglvlng
someLhlng up" because Lhelr schools wlll noL be seen as ºexcellenL" lf Lhey are more dlverse
(Wells eL.al., 2009).
1eachlng Lo Lhe 1esL ln Some Schools and noL CLhers
1he accounLablllLy sysLem, wlLh lLs emphasls on sLandardlzed LesLs, also forces
educaLors ln ºlow-achlevlng" schools servlng mosLly low-lncome black and Plspanlc sLudenLs Lo
flxaLe on ralslng LesL scores vla a currlculum focused almosL excluslvely on Lhe maLerlal LesLed,
leavlng llLLle room for more pro[ecL-based learnlng or pedagogy LhaL bullds upon Lhe knowledge
and undersLandlngs LhaL sLudenLs brlng Lo school. Meanwhlle, research on Leachlng and learnlng
suggesL LhaL Lhe besL way Lo engage sLudenLs ls Lo bulld on Lhelr exlsLlng knowledge and Lhen
connecL Lhose undersLandlngs Lo more absLracL and unfamlllar Loplcs (8arLolome, 1994,
Poward, 2010).
ln comparlng several dlfferenL dlsLrlcLs on Long lsland we found, as dlscussed ln our
earller reporL, LhaL more affluenL and predomlnanLly whlLe and Aslan dlsLrlcLs prlde Lhemselves
on seLLlng Lhe bar much hlgher Lhan expecLaLlons seL by sLaLe mandaLes and focuslng llLLle on
LesL preparaLlon because Lhey have confldence LhaL Lhelr sLudenLs wlll do well on Lhe LesLs
26

anyway. Meanwhlle, many educaLors Lold us LhaL an approach Lo accounLablllLy LhaL relles
almosL excluslvely on sLandardlzed LesLs ofLen has a negaLlve lmpacL on Lhe educaLlonal
experlences of all chlldren, buL parLlcularly Lhose of low-lncome black and LaLlno sLudenLs. Such
a sysLem also works dlrecLly agalnsL pollLlcal lncenLlves Lo creaLe more raclally and eLhnlcally
dlverse schools. When Lhe enLlre educaLlonal sysLem ls noL only separaLe and unequal along
raclal/eLhnlc llnes, buL also measured, evaluaLed and Lhen ºvalued" almosL excluslvely accordlng
Lo LesL scores, Lhe correlaLlon beLween race and schools deemed Lo be ºbad" based only on
Lhese narrow measures ls hlgh, exacerbaLlng Lhe race-based lnequallLles LhaL already exlsL
(Wells and Polme, 2006).
As a resulL sLudenLs ln less affluenL and less whlLe and/or Aslan schools ofLen lose more
lnsLrucLlonal Llme Lo mundane and LesL-prep orlenLed currlculum. Accordlng Lo one Leacher:
WhaL we hear Leachers complaln a loL abouL ls where's LhaL love of
learnlng, where's Lhe exploraLlon, where's Lhe dlscovery, whlch of course
are all valld concerns. And yeL Lhe LesLlng has a plece, buL whaL wlll
happen ls we're [usL.lL's so exLreme LhaL lL's gonna become Lhe evll Lhlng
as opposed Lo lL has a place buL lL shouldn'L be everyLhlng. lL shouldn'L be
everywhere and every place. ?ou know l Lhlnk for Lhe lasL marklng perlod
all we've done ls LesL. lL's [usL LesL, LesL, LesL, and Lhe klds.Lalk abouL
LesL faLlgue. And Lhen Lhey geL desenslLlzed Lo lL. Pow slgnlflcanL ls lL lf
you're dolng lL all Lhe Llme?
LducaLors aL Lhls school and Lhe oLher school dlsLrlcLs servlng 8lack and Plspanlc
sLudenLs are concerned Lhelr sLudenLs are becomlng LesL-Laklng roboLs, unable Lo Lhlnk
creaLlvely or Lo express Lhemselves and Lhelr ldeas clearly. As an Lngllsh Leacher explalned when
Lalklng abouL her sLudenLs' lnablllLy Lo express Lhemselves ln wrlLlng or Lo develop a volce,
º1here's no person behlnd Lhe wrlLlng. l mean Lhey're 8
Lh
graders, Lhey're Leenagers, buL
Lhey've become llke.Lhey wrlLe a formula. lL's sad, because LhaL's noL really Leachlng Lhem how
Lo wrlLe, so lL's very frusLraLlng."
A school board member ln one of Lhe dlsLrlcLs LhaL changed from 93 percenL whlLe Lo
less Lhan 60 percenL whlLe ln a shorL perlod of Llme, Lalked abouL how Lhe leadershlp of Lhe
dlsLrlcL ls Lrylng Lo preserve some of Lhe non-LesL-relaLed programs such as arL and muslc LhaL
make Lhe school day more meanlngful, especlally for sLudenLs who do noL do as well on
sLandardlzed LesLs. 8uL when so much pressure ls belng placed on LesL scores and budgeLs are
belng cuL, prlorlLles need Lo be seL. She noLed LhaL when her dlsLrlcL held budgeL hearlngs
relaLed Lo Lhe severe budgeL cuLs, Lhe board asked parenLs Lo come and Lell Lhem, lf you had Lo
cuL someLhlng, you know, llke glve us a hlerarchy, whaL would you wanL Lo cuL flrsL? And Lhe
ma[orlLy of parenLs dld noL wanL us Lo cuL any of our, our speclals, any of our arL programs or
our muslc programs. She sald, ºlf you're Lalklng abouL Lhe whole chlld and, you know, really
klnd of encouraglng chlldren Lo flourlsh ln all aspecLs of Lhelr personallLy and educaLlonal
opporLunlLy, Lhen arLs ls as lmporLanL as academlcs. And you can'L LesL Lhose Lhlngs. buL Lhe
reallzaLlon LhaL LesLs are noL Lhe only Lhlng LhaL can deLermlne. Lhe worLh of a school dlsLrlcL.
1he senLlmenLs of Lhese nassau CounLy educaLors are echoed across Lhe suburban
counLy we sLudled and no doubL across Lhe sLaLe of new ?ork and Lhe naLlon. 8uL ln Lhe conLexL
of an lncreaslngly raclally and eLhnlcally dlverse suburban counLy and lLs school dlsLrlcLs Lhese
lssues have a parLlcular sallence.
8aclng Lo Lhe 1op for Lhe PlghesL Scores
Many educaLors, school board members and parenLs we spoke Lo commenLed on Lhe
ways ln whlch Lhe educaLlonal sysLem has fosLered lncreased compeLlLlon beLween and wlLhln
small, unequal suburban school dlsLrlcLs. As one Lhls Leacher noLed LhaL Lhe pollcy and focus on
27

accounLablllLy has become a reform by comparlson of all Lhe dlsLrlcLs because Lhe scores are
posLed and ranked ln Lhe newspaper. 1he end resulL ls LhaL many of Lhe more raclally and
eLhnlcally dlverse school dlsLrlcLs rank lower on such comparlsons vla a slngle measure Lhan do
dlsLrlcLs LhaL are more homogeneously whlLe, non-Plspanlc or a mlx of Aslan and whlLes. 1o Lhe
exLenL LhaL home buyers pay aLLenLlon Lo Lhese LesL scores, and our lnLervlews and survey
resulLs suggesL Lhey do, such ouLcome dlfferenLlaLlon and lLs correlaLlon Lo race and eLhnlclLy
mean LhaL more dlverse school dlsLrlcLs wlll lose Lhe ºrace Lo Lhe Lop" of Lhe fragmenLed school
dlsLrlcL pecklng order.
lurLhermore, parLlcularly ln dlsLrlcLs servlng manly lower-lncome black and LaLlno
sLudenLs, Lhe new new ?ork SLaLe Leacher evaluaLlon sysLem, known as Lhe Annual Þrofesslonal
Þerformance 8evlew (AÞÞ8) has added yeL anoLher layer of sLress. 1eachers expressed
frusLraLlon aL Lhe Lendency of Lhe sysLem Lo plL Leachers agalnsL each oLher as Lhey compeLe for
hlgher scores and quesLlon Lhe raLlngs Lhelr colleague recelved. ueparLmenL chalrs, for
lnsLance, noLe LhaL Leachers who had ln Lhe pasL been hlghly collaboraLlve and colleglal and had
worked LogeLher Lo develop lesson plans, were suddenly comparlng Lhelr scores on Lhelr
Leachlng evaluaLlons and quesLlonlng why some of Lhelr colleagues had goLLen beLLer scores.
AÞÞ8 has also led Leachers we lnLervlewed Lo become lncreaslngly frusLraLed wlLh Lhe
challenglng and burdensome home llves LhaL some sLudenLs are faced wlLh on Lop of Lhe
pressures of school. A mld-career maLh Leacher aL Lhe mlddle school we sLudled ln depLh, where
Lhe sLudenL populaLlon has become lncreaslngly dlverse raclally and soclo-economlcally, crled as
she descrlbed Lhe sLress of Lhe new AÞÞ8 sysLem. She sald LhaL many of her sLudenLs have Lo
care for Lhelr younger slbllngs afLer school whlle boLh Lhelr parenLs work Lo afford Lhelr
suburban houses. ln Lhe pasL, Lhls Leacher sald, she had been lncredlbly sympaLheLlc Lo Lhese
sLudenLs lf Lhey needed more Llme Lo geL Lhelr homework done. now, she says she has less
paLlence wlLh her sLudenLs because her [ob ls on Lhe llne, and Lhey need Lo produce Lhe daLa Lo
make her look llke Lhe hlghly effecLlve Leacher she knows she ls.
ÞarenLs, Leachers, admlnlsLraLors, real esLaLe agenLs, and school board members all
Lalked abouL Lhe very ºpubllc" slgnlflcance of Lhe LesL scores and dlsLrlcL ranklngs. As Lhe
superlnLendenL of an affluenL dlsLrlcL noLed, Lhe conversaLlon ln Lhe fleld of educaLlon ofLen geLs
Loo focused on sLandardlzed LesLs, especlally ln suburbla. ºl Lhlnk Lhere ls a suburban klnd of
obsesslon [wlLh LesL scores] whlch ls ln parL leglLlmaLe because your goal ls Lo have your kld
ulLlmaLely geL a good [ob, so Lo a ºgood" college eLc."
1hls superlnLendenL added LhaL some of Lhe LesL score flxaLlon ls º[usL fanned by. our
popular culLure ranklng everyLhlng. whlch movle was Lhe mosL aLLended Lhls week and how
much money dld lL rake ln? 1he new ?ork 1lmes, l Lhlnk lL was yesLerday or Monday has a
ranklng of whaL are Lhe mosL downloaded songs, and, you know, l don'L care. 1here's LhaL
obsesslon wlLh ranklng Lhlngs."
8uL much llke Lhe movle and muslc lndusLry, ranklngs maLLer for school dlsLrlcLs as well.
As we explaln ln Lhe followlng secLlon, home buyers pay aLLenLlon Lo such ranklng and school
dlsLrlcL repuLaLlons, and Lhose wlLh Lhe mosL money Lo spend on houses pay more aLLenLlon
Lhan Lhose wlLh fewer houslng cholces. Cf course, lL Lakes money - dlsLrlcL funds and famlly
funds - Lo geL Lhe hlgh LesL scores Lo begln wlLh, so a vlclous cycle ensues.
We lnLervlewed anoLher school board member ln a dlsLrlcL wlLh LesL scores LhaL are
ranked mld-Lo-hlgh among nassau CounLy school dlsLrlcLs, buL ls also home Lo a growlng
number of consLlLuenLs who are sLruggllng Lo pay Lhelr properLy Laxes. Pls LhoughLs abouL Lhe
lncreaslngly burdensome accounLablllLy sysLem was LhaL lL was ºLerrlble." Pe elaboraLed by
saylng LhaL Lhe school dlsLrlcL has Lo do Lhls, you have Lo do Lhls LesL, Lhls LesL, and now Lhelr
forclng us Lo do Lhlngs, spend money LhaL's rldlculous Lo spend on, on a school dlsLrlcL LhaL has
28

Lhe besL credenLlals golng. And lL Lakes away from expandlng Lhe horlzon for our klds. 8rlnglng
ln new programs. 8rlnglng ln new Lhlngs for Lhem Lo be able Lo experlence, Lo flgure ouL whaL
Lhey wanL Lo be ln Lhls world, LhaL's whaL hlgh school should be."
1hls local school board member ls under Lhe lmpresslon LhaL Lhe accounLablllLy sysLem was
deslgned Lo Lake money from more affluenL dlsLrlcLs wlLh good scores and glve lL Lo school
dlsLrlcLs wlLh lower scores. º8ecause of Lhe LesL scores. Lhe flnanclal ald formula from Albany ls
gonna say, look aL poor n?C, Lhey need more money. 1he only way Lhey're gonna geL beLLer LesL
scores ls lf Lhey geL more money."
Clearly, Lhe rlse of hlgh-sLakes accounLablllLy for schools, educaLors and sLudenLs has
had a profound lmpacL on publlc educaLlon across Lhe counLry. lor beLLer or worse, lL has
changed Lhe ways ln whlch Leachers Leach as well as whaL sLudenLs learn and do noL learn ln
schools. 1he lnLeracLlon beLween Lhls new accounLablllLy sysLem and Amerlcan suburbla ls even
more profound. 1he ways ln whlch fragmenLed and economlcally fraglle suburban school
dlsLrlcLs reacL Lo Lhese new mandaLes ln dlfferenL ways across Lhelr boundary llnes appears Lo
make Lhem even more separaLe, dlvlded, plLLed agalnsL each oLher, and unequal Lhan Lhey were
prlor Lo Lhe rlse of Lough love accounLablllLy pollcles or Lhe demographlc LransformaLlon of
suburban school sLudenL populaLlons.
Ant|-Þub||c Lducat|on and Ant|-1eacher Un|on Þo||t|cs:
1he I|na| Iactor |n the Þerfect Storm
As lf Lhe burden of Lhe budgeL cuLs and a heavy-handed, mulLl-pronged accounLablllLy
sysLem were noL enough Lo keep educaLors ln fragmenLed suburban publlc schools frazzled ln
recenL years, Lhe pollLlcal conLexL of Lhese changes make Lhe day-Lo-day experlence of worklng
ln publlc schools even more challenglng. 1he conLemporary publlc senLlmenL Loward unlonlzed
publlc employees ln sLable, well-paylng [obs wlLh subsldlzed beneflLs and penslon plans has
been far from poslLlve over Lhe lasL Lwo decades as Lhe number of decenL [obs wlLh beneflLs has
conLlnued Lo dwlndle ln all secLors of Lhe economy.
1he hlsLory of Lhls anLl-unlon and anLl-publlc employee pollLlcs evolved ouL of a very
dlfferenL era ln Amerlcan hlsLory shorLly afLer WWll when decenL mlddle-class [obs and decenL
mlddle-class suburban homes were plenLlful for Lhose who had access Lo Lhem. 1hen came Lhe
economlc downLurn of Lhe laLe 1970s, and by Lhe 1980s Lhere was a growlng anLl-unlon
senLlmenL ln Lhe counLry LhaL produced more laws and legal declslons llmlLlng Lhe power of
labor unlons. Meanwhlle, prlvaLe corporaLlons were flexlng Lhelr muscles agalnsL Lhe unlons and
workers, weakenlng Lhe solldarlLy LhaL had once bullL and susLalned Lhe labor movemenL. AL Lhe
same Llme, Lhe changlng economy, workforce demands and corporaLe pollcles such as
downslzlng and sendlng [obs overseas, furLher weakened Lhe pollLlcal and economlc sLandlng of
Amerlcan workers (Creenfleld, 2008). Long-Llme communlLy members ln rapldly changlng
suburbs have noL been lmmune Lo Lhls changlng pollLlcal ldeology LhaL has been fueled by
research and medla LhaL placed much of Lhe blame for Lhe slow economy and Lhe scarclLy of
[obs on Lhose who have Lhem,.
Lven ln Lhe mosL affluenL and sLlll predomlnanLly whlLe school dlsLrlcL we sLudled, Lhe
paln of Lhe slow economy and Lhe lack of well-paylng [obs ls belng felL. Accordlng Lo one school
board member ln Lhls dlsLrlcL, Lhe goal ls on malnLalnlng whaL Lbey have and lmprovlng on lL,
glven Lhe flnanclal consLralnLs. She noLed LhaL whlle Lhe communlLy has always been very
generous ln lLs supporL of Lhe schools, lL has also been hlL very hard ln Lhe lasL year or Lwo. She
sald, ºl don'L Lhlnk Lhere ls anybody who llves ln Lhls Lown LhaL doesn'L know somebody who
losL a [ob or seen savlngs erode or everyLhlng else."
1hose ln Lhe less affluenL and lncreaslngly raclally dlverse suburbs - generally 1
sL
and 2
nd

rlng suburbs wlLh Lhe hlghesL unemploymenL and home foreclosure raLes -- Lend Lo harbor Lhe
29

mosL resenLmenL agalnsL Lhe employees of Lhelr local school dlsLrlcLs LhaL are heavlly rellanL on
properLy Laxes generaLed by Lhese same consLlLuenLs. A mlddle school Lngllsh ueparLmenL Chalr
who has llved, worked and ralsed her chlldren ln her raclally dlverse, mlddle-class suburban
school dlsLrlcL slnce vlrLually all Lhe sLudenLs were whlLe 30 years ago, reflecLed on how Lhe
pollLlcs of publlc educaLlon has changed ln recenL years. She sald LhaL Lhe Leachers are belng
scapegoaLed for Lhe facL LhaL Lhe fracLured suburban educaLlonal sysLem ls falllng aparL - LhaL
Lhe sysLem can no longer be malnLalned. She sald LhaL Lhe Lax payers ln her dlsLrlcL are belng
Lold LhaL Lhe reason why Lhey can'L afford Lo llve Lhere ls because of Lhe rlslng cosL of publlc
educaLlon - namely ºLhese Leachers make Loo much money and Lhey only work 9:00-3:00 and
Lhey only work 10 monLhs of Lhe year and Lhey don'L do anyLhlng." 1he accounLablllLy sysLem ls
Lled Lo LhaL scapegoaLlng, she sald, because lL ls Lhe way Lhe dlsLrlcLs are golng Lo demonsLraLe
LhaL educaLors ln Lhe publlc schools are no good. º1hls ls who we're ganglng up on now. We're
belng bullled."
Many of Lhe educaLors we lnLervlewed Lalked aL lengLh abouL Lhe scapegoaLlng and
bullylng and Lhe anLl-Leachers unlon pollLlcs. 1hey clLe mlslnformaLlon ln Lhelr local communlLles
abouL Lhe beneflLs LhaL Leachers have - e.g. percepLlons LhaL all Leachers and Lhelr famllles have
ºfree" healLh care, when LhaL ls clearly noL Lhe case. Cne Leacher recalled belng aL a publlc
forum where a communlLy member complalned abouL why Lhe Leachers have ºall Lhese healLh
beneflLs and my husband has Lo pay for hls. And Lhere was a Leacher presenL and she sald well l
have Lo pay for mlne Loo. She says whaL do you mean? She sald well we conLrlbuLe 20°
Lowards lL. She says you do? She goes oh l [usL LhoughL you [usL goL lf for noLhlng. And agaln
LhaL's mlslnformaLlon LhaL's perpeLuaLed or allowed Lo perslsL because agaln lL makes Lhe
Leacher Lhe LargeL."
When people pay for publlc educaLlon locally, Lhe pollLlcs of paylng for publlc educaLlon
ls local as well. When Lhe larger pollLlcal conLexL provldes an easy scapegoaL - publlc educaLlon
employees -- for Lhe economlc sLruggles of a growlng number of local consLlLuenLs, Lhe day-Lo-
day pollLlcs can, aL Llmes, become Lense. WlLhln small suburban school dlsLrlcLs, where people
know each oLher and have personal relaLlonshlps wlLh Leachers who ofLen llve nearby and may
have LaughL several chlldren or more Lhan one generaLlon of Lhe same famlly, lL can be
downrlghL hurLful.
1he mlddle school Leacher quoLed above noLed, ln Lalklng abouL Lhe anLl-publlc
educaLlon and anLl-publlc employee pollLlcs ln her raclally dlverse suburb:
1hey forgeL LhaL Leachers are homeowners as well and resldenLs and
Laxpayers. l Lhlnk when lL comes Llme for budgeL voLes.and LhaL's when
Lhey look aL members of Lhe faculLy and sLaff who are members of Lhe
communlLy. l Lhlnk Lhey sald lL was llke 30-33° of Lhe faculLy and sLaff of
Lhls dlsLrlcL are members of Lhe communlLy. So lronlcally Lhe communlLy
ls complalnlng abouL Lhe Leachers buL we're ln Lhe communlLy. We're
parL of LhaL.
1he more lnLlmaLe Lhe communlLy and more personal Lhe relaLlonshlps beLween
educaLors and Lhe parenLs and communlLy members, Lhe more cognlLlve dlssonance lndlvlduals
can feel abouL Lhelr slmulLaneous fondness for local educaLors and Lhelr frusLraLlon wlLh Lhe
cosL of Laxes for locally-funded publlc schools. As one nassau CounLy superlnLendenL noLed,
ºÞeople llke Lhelr own school dlsLrlcLs. Þeople Lend Lo love Lhelr schools, and love Lhelr
Leachers. 1hey may Lhlnk Lhe Leachers ln LhaL communlLy make Loo much money, buL Lhey
never say LhaL abouL Lhe Leachers LhaL Lhelr chlld has, LhaL Leacher ls usually worLh every
penny."
30

ln one of Lhe Lwo ln-depLh case sLudles we conducLed and descrlbed above, mulLlple
lnLervlewees Lalked aL lengLh abouL Lhe flnanclal pressures LhaL burdened many of Lhe long-
Lerm whlLe resldenLs ln a school dlsLrlcL LhaL ls now predomlnanLly Aslan. School board
members Lold us abouL famllles on Lhe brlnk of loslng Lhelr homes because one or more parenL
was unemployed. 1hls has creaLed Lenslons ln Lhe communlLy, especlally when voLers are Lasked
wlLh approvlng Lhe school dlsLrlcL's budgeL. Cne of Lhe school board members, who ls whlLe,
volced hls frusLraLlon wlLh Leachers who lobby Lo geL Lhe budgeL passed and reporLedly say Lo
sLudenLs ºlf you can'L afford Lo sLay here, maybe you should move."
Pe also noLed, becomlng Leary eyed as he spoke of famllles he knows, LhaL so many of
Lhe famllles ln Lhe communlLy cannoL afford Lo llve ln Lhls dlsLrlcL anymore, as Lhelr lncomes
have decreased or sLagnaLed. º1here lsn'L anybody LhaL doesn'L wanL Lo palnL Lhelr garage door.
Cr leL lL look llke LhaL, llke lLs falllng off Lhe hlnges. no maLLer where you llve, no. 1hey can'L
afford Lo do lL. lL's. guL wrenchlng Lo see lL. And, um. lLs affecLs Lhe klds ln a bad way. l see
how my frlend's klds. Lhey really sLruggle." uesplLe hls frusLraLlon wlLh some of Lhe
educaLors ln Lhe dlsLrlcL as he noLed abouL, he also knows of oLher Leachers and admlnlsLraLors
who undersLand Lhe sLruggles Lhese famllles are faclng, and Lhey covered some of Lhe cosLs of
cerLaln school acLlvlLles for Lhose sLudenLs ouL of Lhelr own pockeLs. Pe sald, ºSo you know, as
much as l may feel llke Lhrowlng a sLlck Lo Lhem, ln Lhe same breaLh, Lhey're helplng people, so.
lL's a sLruggle you know."
Meanwhlle, as Lhe raclal and eLhnlc makeup of our k-12 sLudenL populaLlon changes -
on Long lsland and across Lhe counLry - Lhe decllnlng supporL for Lhe publlc educaLlon sysLem
and lLs employees ls no doubL relaLed Lo a demographlc mlsmaLch beLween aglng whlLe
homeowners and Lhe chlldren ln Lhe desks down Lhe sLreeL.
When asked lf she LhoughL Lhere was an anLl-publlc educaLlon senLlmenL ln her now-less-
Lhan-30-percenL whlLe schools dlsLrlcL, a veLeran Leacher who llves ln Lhls dlsLrlcL sald,
unequlvocally, ºyes." She noLed LhaL Lhe lncreased pressure on publlc schools Lo acL more llke
prlvaLe buslnesses and Lo be more efflclenL ln Lerms of spendlng, eLc. colnclded wlLh Lhe rapld
change ln demographlcs and whaL was called ºLhe urbanlzaLlon of suburbla LhaL now Lhe
suburbs are really becomlng more urban. And yes l Lhlnk lL's absoluLely Lled Lo LhaL because
when Lhey're Lalklng urbanlzaLlon Lhey're Lalklng abouL demographlcs."
When asked lf she ever conslders Lhe fuLure of publlc educaLlon ln suburbla, a veLeran
Leacher ln a demographlcally changlng dlsLrlcL noLed:
Ch all Lhe Llme, and l'm very concerned abouL lL because my feellng ls
LhaL unless we change Lhe way we fund publlc educaLlon we're looklng aL
a collapse. l Lruly see LhaL. l wonder lf, you Lalk abouL a consplracy
Lheory, l wonder lf Lhere ls noL.LhaL's noL a basls for lL. 1hls ls a way Lo
abollsh publlc educaLlon. l don'L see how much longer we can conLlnue
Lhe way lL ls. 1he pollcy makers are noL dolng anyLhlng abouL lL so l feel
llke yeah, l feel llke lL's absoluLely LhreaLenlng publlc educaLlon. Maybe
Lhere are people ln power who are Lrylng Lo acceleraLe Lhe process. l
Lhlnk LhaL very ofLen and very sadly.
lronlcally, whlle Lhe properLy Lax cap dlscussed above ls somewhaL helpful ln LhaL lL
llmlLs Lhe lncreases ln Lhe Laxes local homeowners pay ln Lhese small suburban dlsLrlcLs.
Accordlng Lo one school board member, º1he 2° [properLy Lax] cap helped people. l dunno. lL
[usL gave Lhem a llLLle blL of a llfe llne or dld lL [usL exLend Lhe paln 3, 4 years down Lhe road --
lor Lhe school dlsLrlcL, Lhe homeowners, everybody.
8uL Lhe Lax cap has also, as we noLed, has puL much pressure on Lhe educaLors Lo do
more wlLh less, whlle belng held accounLable for Lhe sLandardlzed LesL scores of a changlng and
31

unsLable sLudenL populaLlon. 1he pressures puL on sLudenLs, admlnlsLraLors and Leachers ls
becomlng overwhelmlng for many. Cne veLeran Leacher, who had Lalked exLenslvely abouL her
love for her career and her sLudenLs, became very emoLlonal durlng her lnLervlew, expresslng
her sadness over Lhe LreaLmenL of Leachers and Lhe sLaLe of publlc educaLlon ln general ln Lhe
currenL era. She wenL on Lo say, wlLh Lears ln her eyes, LhaL lf she were sLarLlng her career now,
she would heslLaLe Lo go ln Lo Leachlng, º.nobody's really sure how lL's gonna play ouL. 1o Lell
you Lhe LruLh aL Lhe beglnnlng of my career l couldn'L lmaglne LhaL l'd wanL Lo do Lhls. l mean l
would wonder who's gonna wanL Lo come lnLo educaLlon ln Lhe nexL several years."
1hls Leacher, llke many of Lhe educaLors we lnLervlewed, quesLloned wheLher or noL
Lhere a fuLure for publlc educaLlon ln suburbla. 1hls conLexL and Lhls seL of pressures belng
placed on suburban publlc schools have lndeed, creaLed Lhe ÞerfecL SLorm.

Sect|on Iour:
1he Cyc|e of Segregat|on and the Se|f-Iu|f||||ng Þrophecy of "8ad" Suburban Schoo|s

ln suburban developmenL posL World War ll people would selecL a
communlLy relaLlve Lo Lhe quallLy of Lhe schools because Lhe
suburbanlLes were chlld bearlng. 1hey wanLed Lhe besL posslble schools
for Lhelr klds. now lf you dldn'L have money you dldn'L have much
cholce. ?ou'd buy Lhe house where Lhe house was affordable. 1he
school dlsLrlcLs are cruclal Lo our houslng values and people who don'L
even have klds ln school dlsLrlcLs ofLen seek communlLles wlLh school
sysLems because lL adds so much Lo Lhe value.
- lormer Long lsland Þlannlng LxperL

1he ºperfecL sLorm" of pressure polnLs converglng on suburban school dlsLrlcLs
produces anxleLy ln even Lhe mosL affluenL school dlsLrlcLs. 8uL Lhe addlLlonal pollLlcal and
economlc pressure placed on lncreaslngly raclally dlverse school dlsLrlcLs ls worLh noLlng
because Lhese dlsLrlcLs help us beLLer undersLand boLh Lhe process of segregaLlon and
resegregaLlon of communlLles and publlc schools as well as Lhe devasLaLlng lmpacL of Lhls
process. ln oLher words, a school dlsLrlcL's ablllLy Lo address Lhe perfecL sLorm facLors - or noL -
affecLs lLs repuLaLlon and wheLher lL ls percelved Lo be a ºgood" or ºbad" school dlsLrlcL. 1he
more fraglle or negaLlve a dlsLrlcL's repuLaLlon, Lhe more dlfflculL lL wlll be for lL Lo aLLracL home
buyers wlLh resources Lo pay Laxes and supporL Lhe publlc schools.
ln Lhls secLlon, we examlne survey and addlLlonal lnLervlew daLa from our sLudy as Lhey
speak Lo Lhe relaLlonshlp beLween "tang|b|e" or measurab|e schoo| d|str|ct character|st|cs such
as fundlng, sLudenL ouLcomes, properLy values and sLudenL demographlcs and symbollc or
"|ntang|b|e" factors such as Lhe repuLaLlon, percepLlon and deslrablllLy of Lhe publlc schools and
a communlLy.
We argue LhaL when Lhe repuLaLlon or ºdeslrablllLy" of a school dlsLrlcL decllnes -
usually prlor Lo measurable dlfferences ln Lhe Langlble facLors -- lL seLs off a downward splral
LhaL wlll evenLually lead Lo a decllne of Langlble facLors. lurLhermore, we argue LhaL Lhe
percepLlon of a school dlsLrlcL ls sLrongly relaLed Lo Lhe race and eLhnlclLy of Lhe people who llve
Lhere and send Lhelr chlldren Lo school Lhere. As we lllusLraLed ln SecLlon 1wo above uslng a
sLaLlsLlcal analysls of properLy values and school dlsLrlcL demographlcs, Lwo very slmllar houses
can have Lwo very dlfferenL values ln Lhe houslng markeL dependlng on Lhe race and eLhnlclLy of
Lhe sLudenLs who llve on one slde of Lhe boundary llne versus Lhe oLher.
32

lo tbls sectloo, we coooect tbe Jots of tbose JlffeteotloteJ ptopetty voloes os tbey telote
to tbe mlqtotloo of mote block, nlspoolc ooJ Asloo fomllles to sobotblo, tbe toce of tbe stoJeots
eotolleJ lo sepotote, ftoqmeoteJ scbool Jlsttlcts, tbe ´petfect stotm´ of ptessotes tbot moke
tbese tloy Jlsttlcts oosostolooble, ooJ tbe locteosloqly sbotp Jlstloctloos betweeo ´qooJ´ ooJ
´boJ´ pobllc scbools, wblcb ls tbe ptocess by wblcb tbe flttest moy sotvlve tbe stotm lo tbe sbott
too, bot pobllc eJocotloo os o wbole wlll be mottolly woooJeJ.
1he MaLerlal Consequences of unrepuLable Þubllc Schools
We have mapped and measured many of Lhe Langlble resources of publlc educaLlon -
LesL scores and oLher ouLcome daLa, sLudenL demographlcs, per-pupll fundlng, eLc. -- across Lhe
36 school dlsLrlcLs and Lhen examlned Lhelr relaLlonshlp Lo mlgraLlon paLLerns of recenL buyers
and renLers ln nassau CounLy. ln addlLlon, we have, Lhrough our survey of 3,000 recenL nassau
CounLy home buyers and our lnLervlews wlLh local offlclals, real esLaLe agenLs, educaLors and
home buyers, collecLed daLa on Lhe more ºlnLanglble" facLors LhaL deflne school dlsLrlcLs,
lncludlng repuLaLlons, sLaLus, deslrablllLy, percepLlon and ldenLlLles.
1hrough our survey and lnLervlews, we have learned how people make sense of Lhese
lnLanglble facLors and Lhus, whaL Lhese school dlsLrlcLs and Lhe ºplaces" Lhey occupy symbollze,
how Lhey are deflned as ºgood" or ºbad," and how Lhose meanlngs dlffer across people and
place. Cur lnLervlews ln parLlcular have LaughL us LhaL Lhese ºlnLanglble" facLors, especlally
school dlsLrlcL repuLaLlons, whlle someLlmes grounded ln ºob[ecLlve" daLa, are also lnLerwoven
wlLh everyLhlng from LradlLlon and nosLalgla Lo folklore and myLh. WhaL ls more problemaLlc,
however, ls LhaL Lhey are closely Lled Lo race and eLhnlclLy, wlLh dlsLrlcLs enrolllng
predomlnanLly black and Plspanlc sLudenLs auLomaLlcally deflned as ºbad," and Lhose ln
predomlnanLly whlLe and/or whlLe and Aslan communlLles auLomaLlcally deflned as ºgood" -
absenL concreLe daLa Lo supporL Lhose dlsLlncLlons.
We have also heard how mosL people - be Lhey real esLaLe agenLs, home buyers, or
local offlclals and educaLors - are qulck Lo narrow Lhe scope of ºLanglble" facLors LhaL maLLer ln
Lhe evaluaLlon of Lhe ºlnLanglble" value of a school sysLem. ln dlsLrlcLs wlLh hlgh LesL scores, for
lnsLance, Lhose scores become a focal polnL when people Lalk abouL Lhe ºgood" repuLaLlons of
Lhose dlsLrlcLs, even as resldenLs or educaLors may admlL some faceLs of Lhese dlsLrlcLs are
oversLaLed or noL as ºgood" as Lhelr repuLaLlons lmply.
ÞredlcLably, Lhere ls much correspondence beLween Lhe ºLanglble" and ºlnLanglble"
facLors of school dlsLrlcL quallLy. lurLhermore, lL ls noL new Lo polnL ouL Lhe almosL perfecL
symmeLry beLween Lhe raclal and soclal-class make up of a school dlsLrlcL and Lhelr
ºrepuLaLlons" as ºdeslrable" and ºundeslrable" places Lo llve and send chlldren Lo school, wlLh
Lhe more whlLe and Aslan and hlgher SLS dlsLrlcLs always comlng ouL on Lop. 1hls ls a
relaLlonshlp LhaL has long been a deflnlng feaLure of Lhe u.S. houslng markeL, parLlcularly ln Lhe
norLhern u.S. where raclal and soclal class segregaLlon had Lo be carefully consLrucLed ln a
spaLlal manner and malnLalned wlLhouL laws LhaL mandaLed lL (see Crfleld, 1988). As ColdsmlLh
(2000) noLes, ln Lhe u.S. conLexL, pollLlcal leaders and Lhe publlc have accepLed ºdeep soclal
lnequallLles as Lhough Lhey were Cod-glven," and Lhey have embraced an exaggeraLed bellef ln
Lhe efflcacy and falrness of Lhe markeL Lo shape Lhe value of places and consLrucL ºLhe blzarre
spaLlal form of uS meLro areas" of whlch raclal segregaLlon ls an essenLlal feaLure.
SLlll, we argue LhaL ln recenL decades, Lhe relaLlonshlp beLween race, class, and Lhe
ways ln whlch Langlble (maLerlal) and lnLanglble (repuLaLlonal) characLerlsLlcs of school dlsLrlcLs
are lnLerLwlned has become lncreaslngly leglLlmlzed by a sLronger correlaLlon beLween narrow
measures of ºgood" schools and sLudenLs - namely vla sLandardlzed LesLs now mandaLed by Lhe
sLaLe and federal governmenL, whlch are now publlshed on sLaLe and school dlsLrlcL webslLes. As
a handful of researchers have shown LhaL Lhe ºLanglble" accounLablllLy measures LhaL we
33

currenLly value ln Lhe u.S. help Lo leglLlmlze separaLe and unequal schools and dlsLrlcLs Lhrough
Lhelr sLrong correlaLlon wlLh race and class (see Pelms, 1992, Llnn, 2001, 8oLhsLeln, 2013, Wells
and Polme, 2008, Wells, 2014).
1hls llnkage drlves raclal, eLhnlc and soclal class segregaLlon and sLraLlflcaLlon across
place and space, parLlcularly ln hlghly fragmenLed areas such as Long lsland. ln Lhls way, Langlble
(maLerlal) and lnLanglble (repuLaLlonal) facLors malnLaln an lLeraLlve relaLlonshlp, ofLen rlslng
and falllng LogeLher, creaLlng a downward splral and a seL of self-fulfllllng prophecles as ºbad"
dlsLrlcLs are boLh seen as ºbad" and Lhen become ºbad" or remaln ºbad" due Lo a lack of
resources, loss of supporL, and hlgh concenLraLlons of poor sLudenLs wlLh relaLlvely lower
ouLcomes.
8uL Lhere are also gray areas, where Lhe relaLlonshlp beLween Lhe Langlble and
lnLanglble facLors ls fuzzy, shlfLlng and seemlngly ouL of sync. 1hese are Lhe places where Lhe
meanlng of a communlLy and lLs publlc schools ls belng rewrlLLen - where we can see and hear
preferences and undersLandlngs quaklng. ln Lhose lnsLances, when Lhe Langlble and lnLanglble
facLors are noL allgned, home buyers wlll depend heavlly on ºlnLanglble facLors" or Lhe word of
mouLh repuLaLlon of ºplace," wlLh schools servlng more whlLe and Aslan sLudenLs - wheLher
affluenL or mlddle-class - havlng Lhe greaLesL value and Lhus Lhe hlgher properLy values. 1hey do
Lhls even as Lhey LouL Lhe mulLlple beneflLs of dlverse communlLles and schools ln preparlng
chlldren for Lhe 21
sL
CenLury.
1he Symbollc 8oundarles of Þlace, 8ace and 8epuLaLlon
Cur survey of 3,000 recenL (2003-10) home buyers ln nassau CounLy was deslgned Lo
llllclL feedback on how people movlng lnLo (or wlLhln) nassau CounLy made Lhelr declslon abouL
where Lo llve. We wanLed Lo know whaL was mosL lmporLanL Lo Lhem ln Lerms of decldlng
where Lo llve vls a vls Lhe mulLlple boundary llnes - munlclpal and school dlsLrlcL - ln Lhe
fragmenLed suburban counLy. We were parLlcularly lnLeresLed ln Lhe dlsLlncLlons Lhey made
regardlng ºlnLanglble" or ºsymbollc boundary" facLors. 1hus we asked respondenLs a serles of
quesLlons abouL Lhe facLors LhaL maLLered mosL Lo Lhem ln chooslng a communlLy, wlLh several
quesLlons speclflcally focused on Lhe ºrepuLaLlon" of a school dlsLrlcL or Lhe ºword of mouLh"
consLrucLlon of Lhe place and lLs schools.
8ecause we only had malllng addresses for Lhe properLles boughL and sold durlng Lhls
Llme perlod, we could only admlnlsLer Lhe survey by mall, wlLh each malllng addressed Lo
ºresldenL." Cur flnal response raLe was 10 percenL, wlLh a LoLal of nearly 300 surveys reLurned.
Whlle Lhls response ls noL as hlgh as we had hoped, lL ls accepLable for a malled survey, and our
flndlngs for several lmporLanL quesLlons are sLaLlsLlcally slgnlflcanL.
As we descrlbed ln SecLlon 2 above, we developed four caLegorles of school dlsLrlcLs ln
nassau CounLy based on whaL we saw as Lhe need Lo dlfferenLlaLe Lhem ln Lerms of Lhelr raclal
and eLhnlc dlsLlncLlons. 1hese are Lhe same caLegorles of maps used ln Lhe maps presenLed ln
SecLlon 2 of Lhls reporL.
We have analyzed Lhe survey respondenLs' answers accordlng Lo Lhe ºraclal caLegory" of
Lhe school dlsLrlcLs lnLo whlch Lhey moved so LhaL we could beLLer undersLand how home-
buyers ln Lhese dlfferenL publlc school conLexLs made cholces across 36 separaLe and unequal
school dlsLrlcL boundarles. AfLer much analysls, we ldenLlfled four dlsLlncL caLegorles of dlsLrlcLs
based on Lhe raclal makeup of Lhe LoLal sLudenL body:

llgure 7: CharLs of Lhe 8aclal Makeup of Lhe Þubllc School SLudenL ÞopulaLlon ln nassau CounLy
34





1able 3: number of nassau CounLy School ulsLrlcLs by CaLegory

Category 1
Þredom|nant|y
Nonwh|te, w|th 0-39¼
of the Students Wh|te
Category 2
D|verse 8|ack and n|span|c,
Wh|te student popu|at|on
= 40-79¼ of d|str|ct and
|ess than S0¼ of students
are As|an
Category 3
D|verse As|an, Wh|te
student popu|at|on = 40-
79¼ of d|str|ct and S0¼ or
more of students are As|an
Category 4
Þredom|nant|y Wh|te,
w|th 80¼ or more of the
Students are Wh|te
2011-2012 1S 16 8 18

We chose Lo use Lhese four caLegorles because we learned Lhrough Lhe analysls of our
quallLaLlve daLa LhaL Lhere were dlsLlncLlons ln Lerms of Lhe ºlnLanglble" ways ln whlch each of
Lhese four Lypes of school dlsLrlcLs were deflned as ºgood" and ºbad" dlsLrlcLs, even when Lhese
dlsLlncLlons dld noL preclsely correlaLe wlLh ºLanglble" facLors such as LesL scores or per pupll
fundlng. We wanLed Lo use Lhe survey analysls, Lherefore, as a way Lo explore broader
dlfferences ln how home-buyers made sense of Lhelr cholces.
We also analyzed Lhe survey daLa uslng four oLher caLegorles of school dlsLrlcLs LhaL
were based on Lhe average per-caplLa ºlncome" of people llvlng wlLhln a school dlsLrlcL. Clven
Lhe sLrong correlaLlon beLween race and lncome ln Lhls counLry and on Long lsland, however,
Lhe 36 school dlsLrlcLs were clusLered slmllarly lnLo four caLegorles by race and class. 1here ls a
slgnlflcanL relaLlonshlp beLween race and lncome, wlLh whlLe, non-Plspanlc and Aslan
respondenLs (as well as affluenL respondenLs) far more llkely Lo llve ln school dlsLrlcLs wlLh
hlgher per caplLa lncome. 1he flndlngs were also slmllar, wlLh Lhe lnLanglble facLors, such as
school and dlsLrlcL repuLaLlons, playlng a larger role ln Lhe houslng cholces for survey
respondenLs ln boLh more affluenL and more whlLe and/or Aslan school dlsLrlcLs.
1bos, wbot we leotoeJ ftom tbe sotvey, os we Jlsploy lo tbe followloq set of tobles, ls
tbot tbete ls o sttooq telotloosblp betweeo tbe toclol mokeop of tbe stoJeots lo o tespooJeot´s
scbool Jlsttlct of ´cbolce´ ooJ tbe Jeqtee to wblcb tbey wete petsooJeJ to move to tbelt Jlsttlct
by otbet people´s petceptloo of tbe poollty of tbe scbools.
lL ls lmporLanL Lo noLe as well LhaL our demographlc analysls of where respondenLs llve
shows no slgnlflcanL dlfference across school dlsLrlcLs ln wheLher Lhe respondenLs have school-
age and pre-school chlldren, Lhelr self-ranklng ln Lerms of pollLlcs, nor wheLher Lhey renL or own
Lhelr currenL resldence.
73%
10%
11%
6%
Percentage of Each Race in 1999
Aslan 8lack Plspanlc WhlLe
59%
19%
12%
10%
Percentage of Each Race in 2012
35

ln Lhe followlng daLa Lables, we dlsplay Lhe survey quesLlons and resulLs LhaL we see as
mosL relevanL Lo Lhls framlng of our flndlngs - namely how Lhe symbollc and lnLanglble facLors
maLLer Lo home buyers/renLers. We found LhaL Lhls lmporLance appears Lo be slgnlflcanLly
dlsLlncL across Lhe caLegorles of dlsLrlcLs organlzed by Lhe raclal makeup of Lhe sLudenLs
enrolled. lor lnsLance, ln 1able 4 below, Lhe quesLlon clearly asks Lhe respondenLs Lo dellneaLe
beLween houslng quallLy - e.g. ºdream resldence" and Lhe soclal consLrucLlon of place - or Lhe
deslrablllLy of Lhelr communlLy. We see LhaL ln boLh Lhe predomlnanLly whlLe and whlLe and
Aslan comblned (caLegorles 3 and 4) communlLles, more emphasls ls placed on whaL ls deslred
by oLhers - Lhe soclal consLrucLlon of place.

1able 4: Survey CuesLlon on Less or More ueslrable CommunlLy
Çuest|on #13: Wou|d you rather ||ve |n your dream res|dence |n a *%;; $%;"1)9*% commun|ty or |n a res|dence
you ||ke |ess |n a @01% $%;"1)9*% commun|ty?
***

° WhlLe SLudenLs by ulsLrlcL CaLegorles
ÞredomlnaLely non-WhlLe
(0-39° WhlLe)
ulverse: non-whlLe MosLly
8lack and LaLlno (40-79°
WhlLe)
ulverse: non-whlLe MosLly
Aslan
(40-79° WhlLe)
ÞredomlnaLely WhlLe
(80-100° WhlLe)
73.2° 86.9° 91.3° 92.4°
*
p<.03
***
p<.01
***
p<.001

1he nexL Lhree Lables dlsplay Lhe survey resulLs from Lhose quesLlons LhaL besL hlghllghL
Lhe flndlngs abouL Lhe lmporLanL of ºrepuLaLlon," ºpercepLlon," and Lhus, ºsoclal consLrucLlon"
of a school dlsLrlcL ln parLlcular. 1hls ls noL Lo say LhaL Lhe more ºLanglble" facLors deflnlng publlc
schools are noL lmporLanL or slgnlflcanL across home-buyers ln dlfferenL raclally conflgured
school dlsLrlcLs. 8uL Langlble facLors aslde, lL appears Lo be Lhe case LhaL Lhe dlfference ln Lhe
lmporLance placed on ºlnLanglble" facLors, lncludlng Lhe repuLaLlon of a dlsLrlcL, Lhe
recommendaLlon of a frlend or famlly member, and Lhe ºword-of-mouLh" undersLandlng or
soclal consLrucLlon of dlsLrlcL deslrablllLy ls Lhe greaLesL dlsLlncLlon across Lhese school dlsLrlcL
caLegorles.

1able 3: Survey CuesLlon on lmporLance of 8epuLaLlon of School ulsLrlcs
Çuest|on #37g: 8efore mov|ng to my current res|dence, word of mouth and the genera| reputat|on of schoo|
d|str|cts was #%12 "@401/)5/ or ;0@%=-)/ "@401/)5/ to me |n |earn|ng more about the |oca| pub||c schoo|s. ***
° WhlLe SLudenLs by ulsLrlcL CaLegorles
ÞredomlnaLely non-WhlLe
(0-39° WhlLe)
ulverse: non-whlLe MosLly
8lack and LaLlno (40-79°
WhlLe)
ulverse: non-whlLe MosLly
Aslan
(40-79° WhlLe)
ÞredomlnaLely WhlLe
(80-100° WhlLe)
31.4° 73.7° 86.4° 78.8°
*
p<.03
***
p<.01
***
p<.001



36


1able 6: Survey CuesLlon on lmporLance of School 8aclal ulverslLy
Çuest|on #38k: More rac|a|]ethn|c d|vers|ty |n the pub||c schoo| d|str|cts was a #%12 "@401/)5/ or ;0@%=-)/
"@401/)5/ factor to me when choos|ng a p|ace to ||ve.
° WhlLe SLudenLs by ulsLrlcL CaLegorles
ÞredomlnaLely non-WhlLe
(0-39° WhlLe)
ulverse: non-whlLe MosLly
8lack and LaLlno (40-79°
WhlLe)
ulverse: non-whlLe MosLly
Aslan
(40-79° WhlLe)
ÞredomlnaLely WhlLe
(80-100° WhlLe)
40.7° 46.7° 39.3° 33.9°
*
p<.03
***
p<.01
***
p<.001

1able 7: Survey CuesLlon on lmporLance of School 8epuLaLlon
Çuest|on #38m: keputat|on]how peop|e ta|ked about the scho
o|s |n the pub||c schoo| d|str|cts was a #%12 "@401/)5/ or ;0@%=-)/ "@401/)5/ factor to me when choos|ng a
p|ace to ||ve.
° WhlLe SLudenLs by ulsLrlcL CaLegorles
ÞredomlnaLely non-WhlLe
(0-39° WhlLe)
ulverse: non-whlLe MosLly
8lack and LaLlno (40-79°
WhlLe)
ulverse: non-whlLe MosLly
Aslan
(40-79° WhlLe)
ÞredomlnaLely WhlLe
(80-100° WhlLe)
33.2° 79.3° 86.3° 79.7°
*
p<.03
***
p<.01
***
p<.001


1he value of Pouslng and School ulsLrlcLs: Where 1anglble and lnLanglble lacLors Colllde
And flnally, quallLaLlve lnLervlew daLa of 300 local offlclals, educaLors, and parenLs ln
nassau CounLy reveal LhaL ºlnLanglble" facLors such as a school dlsLrlcL's repuLaLlon and
deslrablllLy maLLer a greaL deal Lo Lhose wlLh ºLanglble" resources Lo brlng Lo a school dlsLrlcL.
1hls flndlng demonsLraLes Lhe exLenL Lo whlch Lhe ºvalue" of places - parLlcularly communlLles
and Lhelr publlc schools -- and home buyers who have Lhe economlc (Langlble) resources Lo have
cholces of where Lo llve are hlghly senslLlve Lo Lhe lnLanglble repuLaLlon and sLaLus of Lhe people
who llve Lhere and Lhelr publlc schools.
1hls ls noL Lo say LhaL Lhe Langlble dlsLlncLlons across school dlsLrlcLs wlLh varled
repuLaLlons are noL real and meanlngful - Lhey are. 8ot oot lo-Jeptb lotetvlew Joto soqqest tbot
tbete ote momeots lo wblcb tbe tespooJeots see tbe qops betweeo tbe tepototloos ooJ teollty,
betweeo tbe lotooqlble ooJ tooqlble. 1hese gaps provlde Lhe lnsLances where we can beLLer
undersLand boLh Lhe fraglllLy and Lhe necesslLy of Lhe lLeraLlve relaLlonshlp beLween Langlble
and lnLanglble facLors. lor ln Lhose momenLs, when respondenLs quesLlon Lhelr own
undersLandlngs of place and value, Lhey are qulck Lo reseal Lhe relaLlonshlp, LhaL ls, Lhe poslLlve
correlaLlon, beLween lnLanglble and Langlble facLors LhaL serves Lo malnLaln Lhe sLaLus quo and
makes boundary malnLenance so lmporLanL.
1he flrsL of Lhe Lwo clearly deflned Lhemes wlLhln Lhe daLa ls ºWhen Lhe 8epuLaLlon of
Þlace Þrecedes lL," whlch explores Lhe mulLlple rupLures wlLhln Lhe oLherwlse sLrong poslLlve
37

relaLlonshlp beLween Langlble and lnLanglble facLors LhaL make a place and school dlsLrlcL whaL
lL ls. lL Lurns ouL LhaL Lhe lnLervlew daLa lnclude a falr number of lnsLances ln whlch respondenLs
suggesL LhaL Lhe repuLaLlon of a communlLy or dlsLrlcL ls exaggeraLed or quesLlonable based on
Lhelr lnLerpreLaLlon of Lhe Langlble lnformaLlon.
1he second clearly deflned Lheme ls ºWhen LocaLlon, LocaLlon, LocaLlon Means
AssoclaLlon, AssoclaLlon, AssoclaLlon," whlch lllusLraLes Lhe powerful relaLlonshlp beLween Lhe
deslrablllLy of a cerLaln place or school dlsLrlcL and Lhe sLaLus of Lhe people who llve Lhere and
send Lhelr chlldren Lo Lhose schools. AL some level, Lhe repuLaLlon of a place may be as
dependenL on who else ls Lhere as lL ls on speclflc resources or opporLunlLles. 1hls process of
assoclaLlon can easlly feed processes of segregaLlon and sLraLlflcaLlon.
wbeo tbe kepototloo of lloce lteceJes lt
SLrongly relaLed Lo Lhe survey responses descrlbed above, Lhe lnLervlew daLa clearly
polnLs Lo ºrecommendaLlon, repuLaLlon and word-of-mouLh shared undersLandlngs" as key
reasons why people wlLh resources and cholces move where Lhey do ln nassau CounLy. ?eL,
whaL ls lnLeresLlng abouL our lnLervlew daLa wlLh respondenLs who llve and work ln Lhe more
affluenL and prlvlleged areas of nassau CounLy - be Lhey educaLors, local offlclals, realLors or
recenL home buyers/renLers - ls LhaL Lhere are ofLen momenLs ln whlch Lhey quesLlon Lhe
voraclLy of Lhelr dlsLrlcL's good repuLaLlon and lLs effecLs on Lhe local houslng markeL. Powever,
Lhey frequenLly shlfL back Lo defendlng Lhelr dlsLrlcL and lLs repuLaLlon by noLlng one or more
dlmenslons of Lhe ºquallLy" of people who llve Lhere as a [usLlflcaLlon for Lhe repuLaLlon. 1hls
also relaLes Lo Lhe second Lheme below,
lnLeresLlngly enough, Lhese same respondenLs also volce concern or dlsmay abouL Lhe
lack of raclal and eLhnlc dlverslLy ln Lhese hlgh-sLaLus dlsLrlcLs and schools, noLlng LhaL such
dlverslLy ls more represenLaLlve of Lhe ºreal world." SLlll, sLaLus and repuLaLlon - especlally as lL
corresponds Lo Lhe sLaLus of Lhe resldenLs who llve Lhere - Lrumps ºreallLy" or any doubLs abouL
Lhe Langlble facLors or Lhe downsldes of raclal/eLhnlc and socloeconomlc homogenelLy. ln Lhe
end, whaL people tblok abouL a place ls as lmporLanL (someLlmes more so) as whaL Lhe place
acLually ls.
Cur lnLervlew wlLh a whlLe, upper-mlddle class parenL who ls one of Lhe leaders of Lhe
dlsLrlcL-wlde Þ1A ln Lhe affluenL school dlsLrlcL ln whlch she and her husband boughL an
expenslve home 10 years ago, exempllfles one example of Lhls Lheme. uurlng Lhe course of her
lnLervlew, she quesLloned many aspecLs of Lhe ºquallLy" of Lhe educaLlonal sysLem ln her
dlsLrlcL, buL she dld noL quesLlon Lhe facL LhaL mosL people percelve Lhe dlsLrlcL Lo be very good
and LhaL Lhose wlLh Lhe resources Lo llve Lhere wlll pay for Lhe expenslve houslng and Lhe
properLy Laxes LhaL come wlLh lL. She noLed LhaL she Lhlnks mosL people move Lhere for Lhe
schools and Lhe communlLy:
My husband grew up ln Lhe nexL Lown over, and l Lhlnk he
always felL llke Lhls was beLLer. l don'L know why. l [usL Lhlnk lLs
repuLaLlon precedes lL. l Lhlnk LhaL many people belleve LhaL
and l Lhlnk hlsLorlcally Lhey look Lo whaL Lhey've heard more so
Lhan anyLhlng else. l don'L know how much research ls acLually
ouL Lhere LhaL says Lhls ls so much beLLer Lhan LhaL. l Lhlnk lL
was really Lhe.l llke Lhe locaLlon.
1hls now-sLay-aL-home moLher of four school-age chlldren has a background ln sclence,
and her crlLlque of Lhe school sysLem, especlally Lhe sclence currlculum, were scaLLered
LhroughouL Lhe lnLervlew ln blLs and pleces amld her undersLandlng LhaL people go Lo greaL
lengLhs and pay a greaL deal of money Lo llve here. 1hus, she seems confllcLed, noLlng LhaL Lhe
repuLaLlon of Lhe publlc schools may be overblown and noL grounded ln Lhe day-Lo-day reallLy of
38

whaL sLudenLs are exposed Lo ln Lhelr classes. lor lnsLance, she sald LhaL desplLe ºeveryone's"
percepLlon LhaL Lhe currlculum ln Lhls dlsLrlcL's schools ls rlgorous, she she dld noL see LhaL ln
whaL her own chlldren experlenced. She sald, º.everyone's llke Lhere's so much homework,
Lhere's so much homework, buL l don'L feel LhaL way. l don'L Lhlnk lL's LhaL rlgorous, buL LhaL's
noL whaL l hear. 1here are a loL of parenLs LhaL Lhlnk lL ls Loo much, Loo much, and l don'L."
She dld noLe, however, LhaL she Lhlnks her chlldren's elemenLary school ls a ºhappy
place" and LhaL Lhe Leachers are ºvery devoLed and dedlcaLed." AL Lhe same Llme, she sald Lhe
currlculum ºls whaL lL ls" and Lhus, º 1here probably ls room for lmprovemenL ln lL. l Lhlnk Lhe
sclence ls lacklng. l have a sclence background, and l feel llke lf l learned Lhe waLer cycle one
more Llme."
1hls moLher also dlscussed many of Lhe non-school facLors LhaL draw people Lo Lhls
communlLy, lncludlng geographlc locaLlon, easy access Lo LransporLaLlon, and Lhe aesLheLlc
beauLy of Lhe ºplace." 8uL she frequenLly clrcled back Lo Lalk abouL Lhe publlc schools and Lhelr
sLrong repuLaLlon, whlch she slmulLaneously doubLs and embraces:
1he schools were always [usL consldered flne, greaL. l don'L
know, Lhey were number one aL one polnL and l Lhlnk LhaL
carrled Lhrough. Lveryone sLlll klnda Lhlnks LhaL. l don'L know lf
lL's very Lrue, buL lL was a huge facLor ln our conslderaLlon and l
Lhlnk LhaL you wlll flnd LhaL many, many people LhaL are comlng
now, movlng lnLo Lhe Lown, wlll say LhaL's Lhe moLlvaLlon Lo
come...
ln a slmllar veln, we see many lnsLances ln whlch people puL a loL of Llme, energy and
resources lnLo belng ln Lhe ºrlghL" school dlsLrlcLs based on recommendaLlon, repuLaLlon and
word-of-mouLh shared undersLandlngs. 1hus, Lhere were many, many lnsLances ln whlch
respondenLs quesLloned Lhe Langlble prlce or Lhe markeL ºvalue" of Lhe properLy and houses ln
a parLlcular school dlsLrlcL, noLlng LhaL ouLslde of Lhls dlsLrlcL conLexL, Lhe prlces people pay for
cerLaln houses are compleLely ouL of llne wlLh Lhe Langlble dlmenslons of Lhelr purchase. As Lhe
superlnLendenL of one of Lhe mosL hlghly ranked school dlsLrlcLs (accordlng Lo LesL scores,
graduaLlon raLes and college accepLances) noLed:
?ou move Lo [Lhls dlsLrlcL] for one reason. very frankly you're noL
movlng here because Lhe house LhaL you're paylng $800,000 for ls
parLlcularly preLLy. lL's noL a parLlcularly blg house or preLLy
house. ?ou're movlng here Lo send your klds here Lo school. My
guess ls l would show you an $800,000 house LhaL you would be
unlmpressed wlLh. ?ou'd say, 'My Cod for $800,000 l'm noL buylng
LhaL.'
LaLer ln Lhe lnLervlew, Lhls superlnLendenL also noLed, ln commenLlng on how people
assess school dlsLrlcL quallLy, LhaL Lhe repuLaLlon - or ºword on Lhe sLreeL" maLLers mosL, even
more Lhan Lhe pleLhora of Langlble daLa avallable onllne. ºl Lhlnk anybody who ls college
educaLed who has young klds and ls looklng for a house, whlle Lhey may be looklng aL lL's a nlce
area, lL's close Lo Lhe clLy, lL's a Lraln rlde Lo Lhe clLy, l Lhlnk as Lhey're dolng LhaL assessmenL
Lhey're assesslng tbe tepototloo of Lhe school dlsLrlcL".
Lven Lhls school dlsLrlcL offlclal, who ls a sLrong advocaLe for hls dlsLrlcL and a flrm
bellever ln Lhe ºquallLy" of educaLlon avallable Lhere, quesLloned Lhe ºvalue" of Lhe homes sold
ln hls dlsLrlcL and admlLLed LhaL ºrepuLaLlon," or Lhe soclal consLrucLlon of school quallLy - as
opposed Lo (or ln con[uncLlon wlLh) Langlble daLa - ls whaL drlves Lhe houslng markeL. ln Lhe
nexL Lheme on ºassoclaLlons" we explore Lhese lssues of ºrepuLaLlon" as Lhey relaLe Lo wbo llves
ln a glven school dlsLrlcL.
39

wbeo locotloo, locotloo, locotloo Meoos Assoclotloo, Assoclotloo, Assoclotloo
1he lnLeresLlng aspecL of Lhls Lheme emerglng from our daLa ls LhaL aL lLs deepesL level,
Lhe undersLandlng of whaL a parLlcular house ls ºworLh" ofLen Llmes abouL much more Lhan Lhe
deconLexLuallzed, raLlonal assessmenL of Lhe value of a plece of properLy and Lhe home bullL
upon lL. lurLhermore, lL does noL always map perfecLly onLo Lhe LesL scores or oLher ouLcome
varlables of Lhe sLudenLs enrolled ln Lhe respecLlve school dlsLrlcLs. 8aLher, Lhe evaluaLlon ls
ofLen abouL wbo llves Lhere and Lhe sLaLus of Lhose people ln Lhe larger socleLy as well as wlLhln
Lhe local conLexL.
1hls space of soclal consLrucLlon of a school dlsLrlcL's repuLaLlon and value ls where
Langlble-lnLanglble dlsconnecLlons can occur. 1hls ls besL lllusLraLed by one Aslan moLher who
we lnLervlewed, who ls lnvolved ln Lhe Þ1A ln her local school dlsLrlcL, whlch ls hlghly ranked ln
Lerms of sLudenL ouLcomes buL ls noL one of Lhe mosL affluenL dlsLrlcLs ln Lhe counLy. She
compared her dlsLrlcL Lo anoLher, nearby dlsLrlcL ln whlch Lhe resldenLs are wealLhler and Lhe
percenLage of sLudenLs ln Lhe schools who are whlLe ls hlgher. She esLlmaLed LhaL Lhe prlce
dlfference beLween Lwo slmllar houses on opposlLe sldes of Lhese school dlsLrlcLs' shared
boundary would be abouL $200,000, and LhaL she had heard LhaL even a small house ln Lhe
oLher dlsLrlcL could cosL as much as one mllllon dollars.
AL Lhe same Llme, she sald she LhoughL Lhe currlculum and gradlng sLandards ln her
school dlsLrlcL were much ºLougher" Lhan ln Lhe nelghborlng dlsLrlcL wlLh Lhe hlgher prlced
homes. She Lhen lmplled LhaL houses ln Lhls less rlgorous, buL more affluenL school dlsLrlcL are
more expenslve because of who Lhe people are on elLher slde of Lhe boundary llne. She also
noLed LhaL ln Lhe more affluenL, less academlcally rlgorous dlsLrlcL, chlldren are able Lo sLand ouL
easler among Lhelr peers due Lo less compeLlLlon. She noLed, for lnsLance, LhaL ln her dlsLrlcL,
Lhe sLudenL populaLlon ls now more Lhan 30 percenL Aslan and Lhe course Laklng paLLerns of
Lhese sLudenLs, many of whom are chlldren of recenL lmmlgranLs, ls lncreaslngly compeLlLlve
and rlgorous. She noLed LhaL Lhls nelghborlng dlsLrlcL ls ºmore wealLhy" and more docLors and
bankers llve Lhere. She added LhaL lL ls ºMore usually WASÞ." 1he resulL ls LhaL alLhough Lhe
dlsLrlcL wlLh Lhe larger Aslan populaLlon regularly ºbeaLs" Lhe more WASÞy dlsLrlcL ln Lerms of
LesL scores and oLher Langlble facLors, Lhe WASÞy dlsLrlcL has a repuLaLlon for belng an
expenslve, more excluslve and deslrable place Lo llve.
A parenL resldlng ln anoLher dlsLrlcL, very much llke Lhe WASÞy one descrlbed above
noLed LhaL when she flrsL moved lnLo Lhls dlsLrlcL wlLh lLs sLrong repuLaLlon and hlgh properLy
values, Lhere was no dlverslLy. She noLed, ºWhen l goL here l felL llke everybody was Lhe same.
Lverybody was blonde and blue eyed and WASÞy and Amerlcan. 8eally llke Lhere was no
oLher." SLlll, Lhls moLher noLed LhaL ln recenL years, Lhere has been some change as dlfferenL
people have moved ln ºwhere now we're much more dlverse Lhan we were. ln Lhe lasL Len
years a Lremendous amounL of.you know we have a loL of Creeks, we have a loL of Spanlsh, we
have a loL of Aslans. 1here are all klnds of people movlng ln, whlch ls so nlce LhaL Lhere's a llLLle
blL of someLhlng dlfferenL."
?eL even as Lhls moLher embraced some degree of dlverslLy ln her school dlsLrlcL, she
was qulck Lo noLe LhaL only cerLaln Lypes of raclal/eLhnlc dlverslLy were allowed and valued.
1hus, when asked lf Lhls demographlc change ln her dlsLrlcL lmplled LhaL ln Lhe near fuLure lL
may look much llke Lhe nelghborlng school dlsLrlcL wlLh lLs overwhelmlngly black and LaLlno
sLudenL populaLlon, she qulckly replled: ºCh no. no. no. We would never be llke LhaL, no. l [usL
Lhlnk lL's more open now Lhan lL once was, buL l Lhlnk LhaL's Lrue of Lhe whole world."
1hls lasL flndlngs secLlon helps us conslder Lhe ways ln whlch Lhe repuLaLlon and
percepLlon of dlfferenL communlLles and school dlsLrlcLs on Long lsland ls sLrongly relaLed Lo
who llves Lhere. 1hls has sLrong lmpllcaLlons for Lhe ways ln whlch raclal segregaLlon lnLeracL
40

wlLh lnequallLy ln Lerms of Langlble dlsLlncLlons - sLudenL ouLcomes, fundlng levels and
resources - across school dlsLrlcL boundary llnes.
Such percepLlons of place and race are documenLed ln oLher llLeraLure ouLslde Lhe fleld
of educaLlon. WhaL we have accompllshed ln Lhls ln-depLh sLudy of one fragmenLed and dlvlded
suburban counLy ls how dlfflculL lL ls Lo creaLe and susLaln raclally and eLhnlcally dlverse
suburban communlLles because Lhe dlvlslons are so greaL. ln Lhe lasL secLlon of Lhe reporL
below, we brlefly dlscuss some posslble soluLlons Lo Lhe lmpendlng flscal and educaLlonal crlsls
ln Lhousands of suburban communlLles across Lhe counLry.

Sect|on I|ve:
Imp||cat|ons and Þoss|b|||t|es
ln prlor publlcaLlons from Lhls research and oLher wrlLlngs by Lhe auLhors of Lhls reporL,
Lop pollcy recommendaLlons for addresslng separaLe and unequal suburban school dlsLrlcLs and
communlLles have lncluded Lhe consolldaLlon of Lhe Llny, flscally fraglle and economlcally
unvlable school dlsLrlcL lnLo one or Lwo counLy-wlde dlsLrlcLs. AnoLher popular recommendaLlon
has been Lo promoLe more lnLer-dlsLrlcL, volunLary lnLegraLlon plans.
ln Lhls reporL, afLer collecLlng and analyzlng reams of quanLlLaLlve and quallLaLlve daLa,
we are less opLlmlsLlc LhaL Lhese are sLlll Lhe mosL lmporLanL recommendaLlons Lo make. Whlle
consolldaLlon of small dlsLrlcLs would no doubL allevlaLe some of Lhe flscal pressure LhaL Llny,
fragmenLed suburban school dlsLrlcLs now experlence, Lhe vehemenL pollLlcal opposlLlon Lo
consolldaLlng school dlsLrlcLs LhaL are so deeply dlvlded ln Lerms of Lhelr maLerlal and
repuLaLlonal resources suggesLs Lhls ls noL golng Lo occur any Llme soon. 1he daLa and flndlngs
ln Lhls reporL help us undersLand why.
1hus, whlle lncreased efforLs Lo consolldaLe Lhe ºback offlce" or admlnlsLraLlve funcLlons
of school dlsLrlcLs ln counLles such as nassau are movlng forward wlLh some success, Lhe
reslsLance Lo wholesale consolldaLlon of sLudenLs, dlsLrlcL names and ldenLlLles and Lax bases ls
flerce and came Lhrough loud and clear ln Lhe vasL ma[orlLy of lnLervlews we conducLed.
Slmllarly, efforLs Lo lmplemenL lnLer-dlsLrlcL school desegregaLlon such as Lhe magneL
school programs developed by Lhe nassau CounLy 8CCLS are worLhwhlle and have broughL
sLudenLs from dlfferenL backgrounds and unequal school dlsLrlcLs LogeLher. 8uL Lhe
demographlc sea change occurrlng ln Lhe publlc schools on Long lsland, coupled wlLh several
facLors - Lhe ÞerfecL SLorm - LhaL are worklng agalnsL Lhe susLalnablllLy off all suburban dlsLrlcLs,
parLlcularly Lhose LhaL are Lhe mosL dlverse, mean LhaL such lnLerdlsLrlcL schools and programs
wlll mosL llkely only address a small parL of Lhe problem of separaLe and unequal schools.
lndeed, whaL has become lncreaslngly clear Lo us ln worklng on Lhls research ls LhaL
unless more ls done Lo change Lhe way ln whlch we rank, measure and evaluaLe raclally and
eLhnlcally dlverse publlc schools and dlsLrlcLs, we wlll never solve Lhe problem of separaLe and
unequal publlc educaLlon ln Lhe new Amerlcan suburbla.
A; "; :*%)1 310@ 081 $)/)B @%/1040*"/)5 @"C1)/"05 4)//%15; ="** :1%)/% 1):")**2 )5$
%/-5":)**2 $"#%1;% ;89819; ); /-% /1)$"5C 4*):%; 4-%50@%5) 4*)2; 08/> ,-% 78%;/"05 "; =-%/-%1
=% :)5 ;8;/)"5 )5$ ;84401/ /-%;% $"#%1;% :0@@85"/"%; )@"$ /-% @"C1)/"05 4)//%15;> D3 50/B /-%
38/81% $0%; 50/ 90$% =%** 301 @8:- 03 ;89819") 01 301 081 $"#%1;% :085/12 ); ) =-0*%>
As long as raclal and eLhnlc dlvldlng llnes exlsL and Lhose dlsLrlcLs LhaL are elLher
predomlnanLly black and LaLlno or becomlng more dlverse ln LhaL dlrecLlon are percelved Lo be
lower quallLy, even when Lhelr ouLcome daLa - more broadly measured - Lo noL warranL LhaL
dlsLlncLlon - Lhe cycle of segregaLlon wlll conLlnue Lo repeaL lLself.
lurLhermore, as we demonsLraLed ln SecLlon 4 of Lhls reporL, when Lhe sLaLus and
repuLaLlon of a communlLy ls more closely Lled Lo Lhe race and lncome of Lhe resldenLs Lhan
41

whaL ls occurrlng ln Lerms of Lhe Leachlng and learnlng ln Lhe publlc schools, Lhen Lhe cycle of
segregaLlon wlll agaln repeaL lLself.
lf we can supporL efforLs Lo susLaln raclally and eLhnlcally dlverse school dlsLrlcLs and Lo
sLablllze Lhelr resldenLlal and sLudenL populaLlons, and flnd value ln LhaL dlverslLy as an
lmporLanL facLor ln preparlng chlldren for Lhe 21
sL
CenLury. 1he fuLure of our lncreaslngly dlverse
counLry requlres pollcy makers and leaders from uC Lo Albany Lo valley SLream Lo do Lhe
followlng:

Þo||cy Makers Shou|d Lmbrace and Cap|ta||ze on Chang|ng kac|a| Att|tudes |n the U.S.
Þart|cu|ar|y Among the ¥ounger Generat|ons.
uesplLe Lhe pollcy Lrends and lndlvldual cholces LhaL have led Lo on-golng paLLerns of
segregaLlon ln boLh urban and suburban communlLles, a growlng body of llLeraLure lndlcaLes
LhaL a subsLanLlal proporLlon of our posL-Clvll 8lghLs socleLy sLrongly values and deslres
exposure Lo dlverse envlronmenLs as an asseL- boLh ln and ouLslde of schools (Þowell, 2002,
Adalr, 2003, Crfleld, 2001, Wells eL.al, 2009, SLlllman, 2012, Laclreno-ÞaqueL & 8ranLley, 2012).
lndeed, ln Lhe mldsL of lncreaslng lmmlgraLlon and changlng demographlcs, Amerlcans of all
raclal and eLhnlc groups are lncreaslngly llkely Lo be accepLlng of culLural dlfferences and Lo vlew
dlverslLy ln soclal slLuaLlons as a poslLlve characLerlsLlc (Alba and nee, 2003, krysan and lalson,
2011).
1he exLenL Lo whlch raclal aLLlLudes and percepLlons of raclal lnequallLy have changed
over Llme, parLlcularly slnce Lhe Clvll 8lghLs MovemenL, varles conslderably by respondenLs'
raclal background. AlLhough all respondenLs are lncreaslngly llkely Lo value dlverse
nelghborhoods, school, and soclal groups, aLLlLudes among whlLes have changed more, slmply
due Lo Lhe facL LhaL non-whlLe respondenLs have favored dlverslLy for longer and ln larger
number Lhan whlLes ln recenL decades (Alba and nee, 2003, krysan and lalson, 2011, Loule,
2003).
AlLhough dlverse, lnLegraLed spaces are becomlng more soclally deslrable, our socleLy ls
sLlll qulLe dlvlded ln Lerms of Lhelr percepLlons of how far we sLlll have Lo go Lo achleve raclal
equallLy. Whlle nearly all whlLes dlsmlss ldeas LhaL blacks ln parLlcular are less lnLelllgenL and
hardworklng Lhan whlLes, and fewer oppose lnLerraclal marrlage, whlLes are lncreaslngly less
llkely Lo belleve LhaL blacks conLlnue Lo experlence raclal dlscrlmlnaLlon as a resulL of sLrucLural
lnequallLy and a hlsLory of slavery and oppresslon (krysan and lalson, 2011). 8lack respondenLs,
on Lhe oLher hand, Lend Lo reporL LhaL Lhese lssues are sLlll very much a problem ln splLe of
shlfLs ln raclal pollLlcs slnce Lhe mld 21
sL
CenLury (krysan and lalson, 2011, Loule, 2003). Aslan
and Plspanlc respondenLs also clLe experlenclng dlscrlmlnaLlon due Lo Lhelr race, however, Lo a
somewhaL lesser exLenL Lhan among blacks or oLher phenoLyplcally dark-sklnned lndlvlduals
(Alba and nee, 2003). lL seems LhaL among whlLes ln parLlcular, conversaLlons around valulng
and pursulng dlverslLy ln schools, nelghborhoods, and oLher lnsLlLuLlons has focused less and
less on Lhls goal as a way Lo address pasL ln[usLlces (kaslLlnz eL.al., 2008).
Addresslng Lhese raclal dlvldes on lssues of pasL ln[usLlces and on-golng sLrucLural
lnequallLy are besL addressed Lhrough cross-raclal dlalogue and undersLandlng. 1he need susLaln
raclally and eLhnlcally dlverse communlLles ls vlLal Lo our fuLure as a dlverse democracy.
AttltoJes oboot ulvetse 5cbools. lollcles Ate oot of 5tep
Þaralleled wlLh Lhese shlfLs ln raclal aLLlLudes, deslre for dlverse learnlng spaces has
grown ln recenL decades. uesplLe Lhe many challenges and shorLcomlngs assoclaLed wlLh Lhe
lnLroducLlon of school desegregaLlon across Lhe u.S., research has shown LhaL ln Lhe decades
followlng Lhe lmplemenLaLlon of Lhese pollcles, lnLerraclal conLacL slowly lncreased and raclsm
among whlLes decllned (CloLfelLer, 2001). lurLhermore, a subsLanLlal body of work lndlcaLes LhaL
42

sLudenLs who aLLended raclally dlverse schools are more llkely Lo exhlblL progresslve aLLlLudes
Loward members of oLher raclal groups (Wells eL.al., 2009). As our socleLy becomes more
dlverse raclally and eLhnlcally, supporL for lnLegraLed schools has only grown sLronger.
Accordlng Lo a recenL newsweek Survey, 71° of all respondenLs fell LhaL lL lncreaslng dlverslLy
and lnLegraLlon ln publlc schools ls lmporLanL Lo Lhelr lmprovemenL. 1hls number was hlgher
among Afrlcan Amerlcan and Plspanlc respondenLs Lhan among whlLes, buL ls much hlgher
among whlLes Lhan ln prevlous years (Cose, 2004). ln facL, parenLs who are chooslng schools for
Lhelr young chlldren commonly reference Lhelr deslre for dlverslLy as a facLor ln Lhe declslon-
maklng process (SLlllman, 2012, Laclreno-ÞaqueL & 8ranLley, 2012).
Powever, recenL research has also shown LhaL even when parenLs conslder dlverslLy Lo
be a beneflL, Lhey sLlll Lend Lo choose schools LhaL are homogenous, ofLenLlmes clLlng measures
of school quallLy as Lhe mosL lmporLanL facLor ln maklng Lhelr declslons (Laclreno-ÞaqueL &
8ranLley, 2012, Wells and 8oda, 2013). And somewhaL paradoxlcally, supporL for pollcles such as
buslng and race-consclous asslgnmenL has acLually decllned slnce desegregaLlon pollcles were
flrsL lmplemenLed. Þubllc pollcles have shlfLed as well Lo emphaslze school cholce and
accounLablllLy above equlLy mlnded pollcles LhaL promoLe dlverse schools. lurLhermore, Lhe
publlc school cholce process ls compllcaLed by lncreaslng lnequallLy, sLark segregaLlon, and
narrow deflnlLlons of ºschool quallLy" LhaL allgn wlLh demographlc characLerlsLlcs of schools.
1he unforLunaLe reallLy ls, Lherefore, LhaL even for parenLs who prefer dlverse schools, Lhese
sLrucLural challenges make flndlng and chooslng Lhese schools very dlfflculL (Wells eL.al., 2009,
Laclreno-ÞaqueL, 2013). Such flndlngs lead Lo our nexL seL of lmpllcaLlons.
More Spec|f|c Þo||c|es to Support kac|a||y and Lthn|ca||y D|verse Commun|t|es and Þub||c
Schoo|s:
AcLually efforLs Lo sLablllze dlverse suburban communlLles daLe back several decades ln
places llke Cak Þark, llllnols ouLslde of Chlcago, Shaker PelghLs, Chlo, whlch borders Cleveland,
or Maplewood-SouLh Crange near newark, new !ersey. 1hese suburban communlLles and
several oLhers seL ouL several decades ago, worklng wlLh local realLors Lo assure LhaL as 8lacks
and Plspanlcs moved ln, whlLe resldenLs dld noL flee en mass, creaLlng a downward splral of
lower properLy values, Lax revenue and local servlces. Lach of Lhese communlLles has been
successful ln malnLalnlng Lhelr raclal and eLhnlc dlverslLy wlLhouL masslve whlLe and mlddle-
class fllghL, and Lhey now serve as beacons of hope for a growlng number of suburban
communlLles Lrylng Lo do Lhe same.
1he Cak Þark 8eglonal Pouslng CenLer, a non-proflL organlzaLlon LhaL has asslsLed ln
connecLlng renLers and properLy owners Lo help raclally balance nelghborhoods for Lhe lasL 40
years. 8ob 8raymeler, Lhe execuLlve dlrecLor of Lhe Cak Þark 8eglonal Pouslng CenLer has
noLlced a large upswlng ln lnqulrles from suburban communlLles across Lhe counLry, whlch he
aLLrlbuLes Lo Lwo facLors: llrsL, Lhe movemenL of Lhe 8aby 8oomers and 8oomleL Lo Lhe clLles
has made people Lhlnk abouL ºwhaL ls golng on ln suburbs."
Secondly, Lhe Cbama AdmlnlsLraLlon has been more pro-acLlve Lhan any admlnlsLraLlons
ln years ln enforclng federal anLl-dlscrlmlnaLlon laws. A good example ls Lhe 2009 WesLchesLer
CounLy falr-houslng case, whlch ended ln a courL order for Lhls suburban counLy, [usL norLh of
new ?ork ClLy, Lo bulld more mlxed-lncome houslng ln lLs mosL affluenL communlLles. ln 2013,
u.S. ueparLmenL of Pouslng and urban uevelopmenL (Puu) offlclals wlLhdrew abouL 7.4 mllllon
dollars ln federal granLs earmarked for WesLchesLer, accuslng Lhe counLy of falllng Lo comply
wlLh Lhe order. Whlle WesLchesLer offlclals argue LhaL Puu ls overreachlng, Lhe Cbama
AdmlnlsLraLlon's acLlons ln Lhls case have puL local communlLles on noLlce abouL falr houslng
enforcemenL.
An C|d Movement |n New 1|mes
43

lor 8raymaler and oLhers who have been dolng Lhls work for decades, Lhe upLake ln
lnLeresL ln dlverse suburbs slgnals noL a ºnew" movemenL, buL Lhe resurgence of an old one
whose Llme has flnally come. ln facL, when Lhe Cak Þark 8eglonal Pouslng CenLer was founded
ln Lhe 1970s, many MldwesLern and norLheasLern suburbs were worklng Lo sLablllze dlverse
communlLles. CrganlzaLlons such as Lhe naLlonal Conference of ChrlsLlans and !ews, (now Lhe
naLlonal Conference of CommunlLles and !usLlce), broughL people from dlverse suburbs and
Lowns LogeLher Lo share sLraLegles. 8uL Lhe momenLum waned ln Lhe 1980s when many older
lnner-rlng suburbs became predomlnanLly 8lack and Lhe lederal governmenL Lurned lLs back.
Pence Lhe changes wlLhln Puu under Lhls admlnlsLraLlon are seen as more Lhan
symbollc. AdvocaLes of dlverse suburbs argue LhaL much llke Lhe Clvll 8lghLs MovemenL of Lhe
1960s, Lhelr grassrooLs efforLs requlre slmulLaneous supporL from Lhe federal governmenL. ln
Lhe Þhlladelphla meLro area, several souLhwesLern suburban Lownshlps came LogeLher Lo found
8ulldlng Cne Þennsylvanla, a sLaLe chapLer of 8ulldlng Cne Amerlca, and Lhey have been
successful ln worklng wlLh Puu offlclals Lo develop a ºmoblllLy program." 1hls program assures
low-lncome reclplenLs of federal renL asslsLanL vouchers, known as SecLlon LlghL vouchers, are
noL concenLraLed ln one or Lwo Lownshlps, buL spread across several suburbs.
1he federal SecLlon 8 houslng voucher program for low-lncome famllles can Loo easlly
become anoLher mechanlsm of ºraclal and soclo-economlc segregaLlon" unless a pro-acLlve
efforL ls make Lo help voucher reclplenLs flnd houslng ln ºhlgh opporLunlLy" communlLles. A
proacLlve sLance on Lhe parL of Puu offlclals Lo sLaff local houslng auLhorlLy offlces wlLh
counselors Lo help move more SecLlon 8 famllles lnLo Lhe affluenL areas of Lhe suburban
counLles ls needed.
SLlll, Lhere ls only so much Lhe Cbama AdmlnlsLraLlon can do absenL supporL from
Congress. ln facL, some of Lhe Puu's mosL lnnovaLlve programs were cuL durlng Lhe federal
budgeL sequesLraLlon of 2013. !usL one lmporLanL example ls Lhe SusLalnable CommunlLles
lnlLlaLlve or SCl, whlch was a parLnershlp beLween Puu, Lhe ueparLmenL of 1ransporLaLlon and
Lhe LnvlronmenLal ÞroLecLlon Agency (LÞA) Lo fund hundreds of communlLles across Lhe counLry
Lo develop masLer plans for economlcally sLrong, envlronmenLally susLalnable, and ºlncluslve"
communlLles. unforLunaLely, Lhe sequesLer and a lack of Congresslonal supporL has ended Lhe
SCl program afLer Lhe lnlLlal plannlng sLage.
Accordlng Lo people worklng wlLhln Lhese SCl communlLles, Lhe plannlng granLs were
lnvaluable ln brlnglng dlfferenL sLakeholders LhroughouL a reglon LogeLher - ofLen for Lhe flrsL
Llme - Lo Lhlnk abouL growLh, developmenL and dlverslLy. unforLunaLely, Lhese pro[ecL lack
federal funds Lo move forward and lmplemenL Lhelr plans. lronlcally, lL ls LhaL reglonal plannlng
ºwork" of Lhe SCl granLees LhaL ls mosL needed Lo susLaln already dlverse suburbs.
Irom Address|ng D|scr|m|nat|on to Susta|nab|||ty and kev|ta||zat|on
1hls shlfL ln focus from addresslng lssues of raclal dlscrlmlnaLlon Lo revlLallzlng suburbs
LhaL are already raclally dlverse ls Lhe growlng Lrend ln lnner-rlng and older suburbs. As !ay
8eadey of Lhe Chlcago Lawyer's CommlLLee for Clvll 8lghLs noLes, Lhe mosL lmporLanL quesLlon
for advocaLes of dlverse communlLles Lo ponder Lhese days ls ºhow do you go beyond enforclng
falr houslng complalnLs Lo more afflrmaLlvely susLalnlng dlverse communlLles?"
ln Shaker PelghLs, Chlo, whlch been pro-acLlve on houslng lnLegraLlon for decades, Lhls
shlfL ls obvlous. ºWe don'L Lalk so much abouL nelghborhood lnLegraLlon anymore, we Lalk
abouL sLablllzaLlon and revlLallzaLlon," sald Llsa Cold-ScoLL, Pouslng ALLorney for Shaker PelghLs.
A long-sLandlng home loan program called lund for Lhe luLure was esLabllshed ln
Shaker ln Lhe 1980s Lo asslsL home buyers ln maklng ºpro-lnLegraLlve" moves lnLo
nelghborhoods ln whlch Lhey would conLrlbuLe Lo raclal balance. 8uL afLer Lhe morLgage lendlng
crlsls ln 2008, credlL became LlghLer and more homes were converLed Lo renLals unlLs as Lhe
44

recesslon conLlnued. 8y 2012, Lhe lund for Lhe luLure was no longer a vlable model for
susLalnlng a raclally dlverse and mlxed-lncome communlLy.
now, Shaker PelghLs, wlLh supporL from Puu and local non-proflLs, ls focused on
revlLallzaLlon efforLs lncludlng rehabblng vacanL loLs and foreclosed houses. 1hey are bulldlng
playgrounds and gardens ln spaces where abandoned houses once sLood and rehabblng old
reLall esLabllshmenLs LhaL once housed auLo repalr shops Lo make offlce space for sLarL-up Lech
companles. Accordlng Lo Cold-ScoLL, Lhe susLalnablllLy of older suburbs llke Shaker PelghLs goes
well beyond ensurlng falr houslng now LhaL Lhe demographlcs have changed so much. She noLes
LhaL when you have safe healLhy homes and vlbranL buslness dlsLrlcLs, lL has a rlpple effecL on
Lhe whole communlLy. 1hus, whlle Lhe LacLlcs Lo susLaln dlverse communlLles may change over
Llme, Lhe work ls never done: ºlL ls a never-endlng process, and you can'L [usL resL on your
laurels," Cold-ScoLL sald.
1he ldea LhaL Lhe work of susLalnlng dlverse suburbs ls never-endlng and ever-evolvlng
ls echoed ln oLher conLexLs, lncludlng Maplewood-SouLh Crange ln new !ersey where nancy
Cagnler ls Lhe LxecuLlve ulrecLor of Lhe CommunlLy CoallLlon on 8ace. Modeled afLer Lhe lund
for Lhe luLure, Maplewood-SouLh Crange esLabllshed a loan program ln Lhe laLer 1990s called
Þrlsm (Þro-lnLegraLlon SupplemenLal Money), whlch provlded low-lnLeresL loans Lo homebuyers
Lo purchase on sLreeLs where Lhelr raclal/eLhnlc group was underrepresenLed. ln recenL years,
Þrlsm, llke lund for Lhe luLure, has evolved lnLo a home lmprovemenL loan program Lo help
communlLy members hlL hardesL by Lhe morLgage crlsls and recesslon keep up Lhelr home's
exLernal appearances.
1he CoallLlon also formed a 8ealLor Advlsory Croup Lo LesL how realLors reacLed Lo
prospecLlve home buyers of dlfferenL raclal eLhnlc groups. 1hls efforL has evolved as well, as falr
houslng laws have greaLly resLrlcLed whaL real esLaLe agenLs can say Lo prospecLlve buyers abouL
race. lronlcally, some of Lhe same advocacy groups LhaL once wanLed Lhe LlghLer resLrlcLlons on
how realLors could Lalk abouL race Lo prevenL raclal sLeerlng now bemoan Lhe facL LhaL Lhese
resLrlcLlons forbld realLors who undersLand Lhe beneflLs of dlverse communlLles and schools Lo
Lalk abouL dlverslLy as a selllng polnL.
1he nous|ng-Schoo| Nexus
So ln Maplewood-SouLh Crange Lhe 8ealLor Advlsory Croup now holds meeLlngs wlLh
Lhe local real esLaLe agenLs and school offlclals abouL whlch nelghborhoods are Lhe hardesL Lo
sell and how LhaL relaLes Lo percepLlons of Lhe publlc schools. 1hey Lhen recrulL enLhuslasLlc
parenLs from Lhose schools Lo glve prospecLlve buyers a Lour. º1hese school Lours are glven by
people who love Lhe Lown and can say a loL more abouL raclal dlverslLy Lhan a realLor can," sald
Cagnler.
Such connecLlons beLween resldenLlal paLLerns and percepLlons of Lhe quallLy of dlverse
publlc schools are crlLlcal. Accordlng Lo Cagnler, ºhouslng pollcy ls school pollcy."
And whlle many supporLers of communlLles llke Maplewood-SouLh Crange are happy Lo
see Puu promoLlng lncluslve suburbs, Lhey bemoan Lhe domlnanL educaLlon reform efforLs of
Lhe lasL 30 years, whlch Lhey see as worklng agalnsL dlverse publlc schools. 8y promoLlng a
narrow seL of accounLablllLy measures LhaL sLrongly correlaLe wlLh race and soclal class of Lhe
sLudenLs, schools LhaL are more dlverse ofLen have ºworse" ouLcomes on Lhese narrow
measures, Lhus lowerlng Lhelr ranklngs, even lf Lhere are good schools.
Accordlng Lo Þaul Scully aL 8ulldlng Cne Amerlca, Lhe ºblggesL area of frusLraLlon ls Lhe
ueparLmenL of LducaLlon," whlch ls seen as dolng noLhlng Lo help promoLe raclally and
eLhnlcally dlverse schools desplLe much research evldence Lhey besL prepare chlldren for Lhe
21
sL
CenLury economy and global socleLy.
Lducat|ona| Þo||c|es for the 21
st
Century
45

1he courLs have ruled Lhe ºeducaLlonal beneflLs" of dlverse unlverslLles, schools and
classrooms consLlLuLe an lmporLanL, compelllng governmenLal lnLeresL. Such dlverse learnlng
envlronmenLs, Lhe courLs noLed, beLLer prepare sLudenLs for a global socleLy by reduclng raclal
sLereoLypes and fosLerlng cross-raclal undersLandlng. 1hese rullngs were predlcaLed ln parL on a
growlng body of research across several flelds, lncludlng maLhemaLlcs and sclence, LhaL show
people worklng ln raclally and eLhnlcally dlverse groups come up wlLh beLLer soluLlons Lo
problems. Amerlcan corporaLlons have been lnsplred by Lhls research Lo provlde employees
wlLh Lralnlngs on problem solvlng and dlverslLy - sLraLegles mosL of our mosL of our schools are
noL Leachlng.
lf our demographlc desLlny, solld research evldence, employers' demands, and Lhe u.S.
Supreme CourL do noL provlde pollcy makers wlLh enough lncenLlve Lo promoLe raclal and eLhnlc
dlverslLy ln our publlc schools, Lhen changlng raclal aLLlLudes should. As we noLed above, oplnlon
polls and lnLervlews show LhaL a growlng number of whlLe Amerlcans, especlally young adulLs,
harbor less raclal pre[udlce Lhan whlLes of a prlor generaLlon.
ln addlLlon, as we also noLe above, Lhe percenLage of Amerlcans who supporL sLudenLs
of dlfferenL raclal and eLhnlc backgrounds aLLendlng Lhe same schools has lncreased
dramaLlcally - aL leasL ln Lerms of whaL people say slnce Lhe 1930s. ?oung adulLs, who are more
llkely Lo have aLLended dlverse schools and have chlldren ln publlc schools Loday, express Lhe
mosL supporL for raclally lnLegraLed schools and classrooms.
Þ|ac|ng Iar Less Lmphas|s on Narrow Measures of Ach|evement.
1he currenL heavy emphasls on sLandardlzed LesLs ls deLrlmenLal Lo good Leachlng LhaL
engages sLudenLs ln creaLlve ways. lor sLudenLs who llve and wlll work ln a raclally dlverse and
culLurally complex socleLy, Lhls sLrong emphasls on dlscreLe blLs of sLandardlzed knowledge and
lnformaLlon ls even more problemaLlc. 1he currenL colorbllnd pollcy focus on sLandardlzed
LesLlng as Lhe almosL excluslve measure of hlgh-achlevlng sLudenLs and good schools and
Leachers does an educaLlonal dlsservlce Lo sLudenLs of all raclal and eLhnlc backgrounds.
Such undersLandlngs work agalnsL raclally dlverse schools ln ways LhaL are unfalr and
erroneous and ofLen lead Lo a self-fulfllllng prophecy vla a downward splral of dlverse schools as
sLudenLs wlLh more resources and hlgher LesL scores leave. nearly 20 years ago, Llmore and
luhrman predlcLed Lhls downward splral of more dlverse schools measured by narrow, non-
dlverse measures. As sLaLe LesLlng reglmes were flrsL belng lmplemenLed, Lhey noLed LhaL
because prlor sLudenL academlc achlevemenL and sLudenLs' soclal class are sLlll Lhe sLrongesL
predlcLors of how well a glven school wlll do on academlc achlevemenL measures, ºfocuslng
sLaLe pollcy on sLudenL performance mlghL slmply concenLraLe hlgh-achlevlng sLudenLs ln a few
schools, Lhereby aggravaLlng currenL dlsparlLles ln Lhe raclal and socloeconomlc composlLlon of
schools" (Llmore and lurman, 1993). 8esearch my colleagues and l conducLed on raclally dlverse
hlgh schools from Lhe 1970s revealed LhaL many of Lhese schools had ºgood" repuLaLlons.
We learned from our hlsLorlcal case sLudles of Lhese schools, however, LhaL school
repuLaLlons are lncredlbly fraglle and need Lo be bolsLered-and noL undercuL-by federal and
sLaLe pollcles lnLended Lo hold schools accounLable. lndeed, glven everyLhlng LhaL raclally
dlverse schools have worklng agalnsL Lhem ln a raclally segregaLed and unequal socleLy, such
pollcles should supporL Lhese schools and noL conLrlbuLe Lo Lhelr demlse (Wells and Polme,
2003).
I|na| Word
lL ls Llme for 21
sL
CenLury pollcymakers Lo conslder broader, real-world accounLablllLy
measures LhaL more accuraLely reflecL Lhe range of experlences of sLudenLs need wlLhln a
raclally and culLurally dlverse socleLy. Pow mlghL our publlc schools - suburban and urban --
beLLer prepare Lhe nexL generaLlon of Amerlcans for llfe and work ln culLurally complex and
46

global socleLy? 8esearch, parenLs' lnLulLlon and common sense suggesL LhaL Lhls mlsslon ls besL
accompllshed ln schools LhaL more accuraLely reflecL Lhe culLural dlverslLy of our lncreaslngly
complex socleLy.
lL ls Llme for more pollcy makers Lo embrace Lhe raclal, eLhnlc and culLural complexlLy of
our k-12 sLudenL populaLlon and endorse pollcles LhaL supporL dlverse schools and cross-culLural
learnlng. A flrsL sLep would be Lo decrease Lhe emphasls on narrow measures of sLudenL
achlevemenL - e.g. sLandardlzed LesL scores - as Lhe only way Lo deflne ºgood" sLudenLs and
ºgood" schools. ln oLher words, pollcy makers should reLhlnk wbot Lhey are holdlng schools
accounLable for and wheLher Lhey Lhlnk preparlng sLudenLs for a global socleLy ls one aspecL of a
quallLy educaLlon.
lf preparlng Lhe nexL generaLlon Lo cross culLural boundarles and work ln a global
economy ls a prlorlLy, pollcy makers should also supporL houslng pollcles LhaL susLaln dlverse
communlLles and schools. 1hrough scaLLered slLe moderaLe-lncome houslng or programs Lo
supporL sLablllLy ln Lhe houslng markeLs of lncreaslngly dlverse 1
sL
and 2
nd
suburbs, pollcy makers
and communlLy members musL acL on Lhe changlng raclal aLLlLudes ln Lhls counLry Lo Lear down
decades-old sLrucLures of lnequallLy and segregaLlon. Assurlng equal access Lo nelghborhoods
and schools for famllles or all backgrounds ls flrsL sLep Loward embraclng Lhe poLenLlal of Lhe
mosL raclally and eLhnlcally dlverse democracy ln Lhe world. Assurlng exlsLlng resldenLs and Lhelr
resources - Langlble and lnLanglble -- Lo supporL publlc schools sLay ls a second lmporLanL sLep.


47

keferences

Adalr, S. (2003). ºChallenglng Þubllc School 8esegregaLlon: 1he use of Small-Scale Soclal
MovemenLs Lo Þreserve Lhe Þromlse of 8rown." uocLoral ulsserLaLlon, 1he Þennsylvanla SLaLe
unlverslLy.

Adelman, 8. M. (2004). nelghborhood opporLunlLles, race, and class: 1he 8lack mlddle class and
resldenLlal segregaLlon. clty & commoolty, J(1), 43-63.

Alba, 8. and nee, v. (2003). 8emaklng Lhe Amerlcan MalnsLream: AsslmllaLlon and
ConLemporary lmmlgraLlon. Parvard unlverslLy Þress.

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