In our last Spotlight post on school segregation, we showed how different definitions provide very different pictures of segregation across NYC. Schools that appear “racially representative” when compared to their Community School District (CSD), for example, can be racially isolated when compared to their borough or the City as a whole. These differences are important, as they highlight the multiple levels at which segregation and inequality play out, each of which may require different policy responses.
In this Spotlight post, we use maps to show where racially representative elementary and middle schools in NYC are located, following the three definitions from our previous post. This analysis includes both traditional district schools and charters. Figure 1 shows racially representative schools based on their concentration of Black and Latino students (i.e., representative schools have no fewer than 50 percent and no more than 90 percent Black or Latino students). Figures 2 and 3 show racially representative schools based on a comparison of their racial demographics with those of their CSD or borough, respectively.
The maps in this Spotlight post show how the picture of “racial representativeness” shifts depending on the point of comparison and the degree of residential segregation seen within and between communities. These maps also clearly illustrate the difficulty of achieving racially representative schools that reflect the diversity of New York City as a whole. This would likely require massive shifts in patterns of residential segregation or requiring students to attend school very far from home. That said, there may be changes to enrollment policies or practices that could have an immediate impact on school demographics in some communities and move more schools in the direction of reflecting the City’s diverse population. In future work, we hope to address topics that can help us answer questions like the following:
- What does racial representation look like at the high school level, where students have more flexibility to choose schools across the City?
- To what extent does academic screening (within and across districts) play a role in racial and ethnic segregation? How will policies to limit screening at the middle school level, like those underway in CSDs 3 and 15, affect racial representation?
- How closely linked are neighborhood and school segregation? Put differently, are there CSDs that are highly residentially segregated but have schools that are racially representative of the district? Conversely, are there CSDs with diverse populations but highly segregated schools? To what extent do these different scenarios require different policy responses?
What else should we be asking about mapping racially representative schools? Let us know via email.
This post was authored by Kathryn Hill, Zitsi Mirakhur, and John Sludden. Special thanks to Sean Corcoran for his generous feedback on earlier drafts of this work.