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EdBuild Report Spotlights 50 Most-Segregating School District Borders

By Andrew Ujifusa

This post first appeared on the Politics K-12 blog.

Ohio has three of the 10 most-segregating school district boundaries by income in the United States, while Alabama has six such district lines out of the 50 most-segregated in that category, according to a new report from EdBuild, a nonprofit organization which studies school funding issues.

"Fault Lines: America's Most Segregating School District Borders" looks at student-poverty rates between adjacent districts, and examined more than 33,500 such district boundaries to see where there were the biggest such income disparities between neighboring districts.

The most-economically segregating district boundary was between Grosse Pointe and Detroit schools in Michigan, according to EdBuild's analysis. Here are the various disparities between those two districts:


And Birmingham, Ala. school boundaries with two neighboring districts accounted for the next two most-economically segregated boundaries.

The report follows on the heels of significant attention to school segregation by income as well as race this year—the share of high-poverty and racially isolated schools has grown in the U.S. in recent years, according to a Government Accountability Office report released in May. 

The EdBuild report points the finger directly at a 1974 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Milliken v. Bradley, in which the court held that school desegregation plans cannot be enforced across districts lines, as helping to increase such economic segregation between schools. 

"Because property taxes play such an important role in school funding, well-off communities have an interest in school district borders that fence off their own neighborhoods from lower-wealth areas and needier students—and most states' laws allow this kind of self-segregation," the EdBuild report states.

Click here for a table with comparisons of district boundaries and information like the Detroit-Grosse Point chart above. And read the full report from EdBuild below:

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