Saporito, Salvatore, & Van Riper, David
Do Irregularly Shaped School Attendance Zones Contribute to Racial Segregation or Integration?
College of William and Mary
Does existing racial segregation across large residential areas structure the racial composition of school attendance zones such that compact attendance zones will be more racially homogeneous than irregularly shaped attendance zones?
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Vol. 3 No. 1 Pp. 64-83
Authors find that the typical school attendance zone is relatively compact and resembles a square-like shape. Compact zones typically draw children from local residential areas, and since local areas are often racially homogeneous, this suggests that high levels of racial segregation in the largest school districts are largely structured by existing residential segregation.
Although relatively rare, attendance zones that are highly irregular in shape almost always contain racially diverse student populations. This racial diversity contributes to racial integration within school districts. These findings contradict recent theoretical and empirical scholarship arguing that irregularly shaped zones contribute to racial segregation in schools.
Their findings suggest that most racial segregation in school attendance zones is driven by large-scale segregation across residential areas rather than a widespread practice among school districts to exacerbate racial segregation by delineating irregularly shaped attendance zones.
Their findings show that to a large degree racial segregation in public elementary schools is driven by residential segregation coupled with compact zoning practices.
There is far less variation in racial diversity among highly irregular zones and the over-whelming majority of the most irregularly shaped zones are racially diverse. By contrast, compact zones are, on average, less racially diverse than irregular zones. But compact zones also contain the full range of diversity scores.
As attendance zones become more irregular, it is more likely that children from different racial groups within them live in more spatially and racially distinct clumps. By contrast, compact zones are more likely to contain students of different racial groups who are interspersed in some-what of a checkboard fashion.
The findings show that the more irregular in shape a zone is, the more likely it is to contain a racially diverse population and that irregular zones often achieve this desegregation by drawing children from distinct racial enclaves.
One implication of their findings is that racially diverse school districts that want to delineate irregular zones to achieve racial integration must go to extraordinary lengths to achieve this end.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Brown vs Board of Education, Composition, Segregation, Urban Schools
Method of Analysis:
Descriptive Statistics, GIS (Geographic Information System)
School districts with first grade attendance zones
Unit of Analysis:
The authors analyzed the School Attendance Boundary Information System (SABINS). SABINS consists of Geographic Information System (GIS) files containing many thousands of school attendance zones.
They analyze first-grade attend-dance zones as they closely approximate what most people think of as an elementary zone.
The final sample consists of 307 school districts that have first-grade attendance zones. These 307 districts contain roughly a third of six-year-olds in the United States.
There are 13,169 unique attendance zones analyzed in this study.