The Atlantic

The Urban-School Stigma

Influenced by biases against urban education, parents are moving away from city schools and contributing to segregation in the process.
Source: Jonathan Alcorn / Reuters

Urban schools don’t inspire much confidence these days. Politicians and policy leaders routinely bemoan their quality. And media outlets regularly run stories of “failing urban schools.”

Middle- and upper-income parents have expressed misgivings, too. But they’ve done it much less volubly. With relatively little fuss, they’ve simply picked up and moved—departing from city school systems at ever-greater rates. Among expressions of no-confidence, this has arguably been the most significant, because it has reshaped district demography. Each year, it seems, urban schools serve larger concentrations of poor students, racial minorities, and English-language learners. As higher-income families depart, resources go with them, and schools are faced with the daunting prospect of doing more with less.

If such departures are driven by good information about school quality, one can hardly blame parents with resources for acting in the best interests of their children.

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