Do irregularly shaped school attendance zones contribute to racial segregation or integration?

Salvatore Saporito, David Van Riper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

This research investigates if and how much the shapes of school attendance zones contribute to racial segregation in schools. We 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. Still, this study finds that the United States contains some attendance zones with highly irregular shapes—some of which are as irregular as the most irregular Congressional District. 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. Our 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-83
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Currents
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported with grants from the National Science Foundation (SES-1123727, SES-1123894, SES-0921794, and SES-0921279) and the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences.

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported with grants from the National Science Foundation (SES-1123727, SES-1123894, SES-0921794, and SES-0921279) and the U.S. Department of Education?s Institute for Education Sciences.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Southern Sociological Society 2015.

Keywords

  • Education
  • Gerrymandering
  • Racial segregation
  • School attendance zones
  • Urban

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