School choice increases likelihood of gentrification, new study finds
- As school choice expands, so does the likelihood that gentrification will increase in communities of color, according to a 2017 study on the impact of choice, Chalkbeat reports.
- The findings highlight the debate over how choice is affecting housing issues, since the quality of a neighborhood school has less impact on real estate values than in the past. School choice advocates say this is a positive result while critics are concerned about the impact this shift has on support for neighborhood schools.
- While gentrification does tend to integrate neighborhoods more fully, it does not always have the same effect on schools in the area and comes with other hidden costs for neighborhoods, including the loss of political power and the potential for residential displacement and loss of business or customs.
One of the reasons education is so important is that it affects so many other aspects of society including economic growth and the housing sector. For years, real estate profiles were built around schools whose success or failure dramatically affect the desirability — and therefore the price — of homes. The era of school choice, for good or ill, has begun to decouple the relationship between housing and schools to some extent. However, school choice does seem to be impacting gentrification efforts more fully as affluent families no longer feel so limited by public school options in the area.
The debate over gentrification is another issue on its own. Some people consider gentrification a threat to established communities because it may force some current occupants out of an area through higher tax and rent rates. Gentrification can also dilute the political power of a community and undermine its business community and culture. One of the most positive impacts of gentrification can be the additional resources it can bring to a community and its schools, an impact that could begin to even the playing field for some schools that are underfunded. But if affluent residents are not sending kids to neighborhood schools, that impact is negligible.
There are also disparities in funding for some schools that can affect academic outcomes and impact the economic health of a community. Even years after school segregation has been outlawed, economic factors are creating even more segregation in schools, leading to lawsuits in some cases. Education and economics are inextricably linked, making solutions to the problem of funding parity even more complex. In the case of gentrification, Bartley R. Danielsen, associate professor of business management at North Carolina State University, argues that school choice may be a solution, rather than a problem.
“We should not withhold school choice, or any other anti-poverty programs, from poor neighborhoods due to fear of too much success (gentrification),” Danielsen said. “We don’t withhold food during famines because we worry that overeating leads to diabetes.”