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In his 2013 book, the New York University sociologist Patrick Sharkey defines a poor neighborhood as one where 20 percent of the residents are poor, not 40 percent as in Paul Jargowsky’s work.A 20-percent-poor neighborhood is still severely disadvantaged.It must be addressed primarily by improving the social and economic conditions that bring too many children to school unprepared to take advantage of what even the best schools have to offer.
But for African American students living in the ghettos of large cities, far distant from middle class suburbs, the racial isolation of their schools cannot be remedied without undoing the racial isolation of the neighborhoods in which they are located. In 2007, the Supreme Court made integration even more difficult than it already was, when the Court prohibited the Louisville and Seattle school districts from making racial balance a factor in assigning students to schools, in situations where applicant numbers exceeded available seats (2007).
The plurality opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts decreed that student categorization by race (for purposes of administering a choice program) is unconstitutional unless it is designed to reverse effects of explicit rules that segregated students by race.
Schools that the most disadvantaged black children attend are segregated because they are located in segregated high-poverty neighborhoods, far distant from truly middle-class neighborhoods.
Living in such high-poverty neighborhoods for multiple generations adds an additional barrier to achievement, and multigenerational segregated poverty characterizes many African American children today.
This school segregation mostly reflects neighborhood segregation.
In urban areas, low-income white students are more likely to be integrated into middle-class neighborhoods and less likely to attend school predominantly with other disadvantaged students.
Desegregation efforts, he stated, are impermissible if students are racially isolated, not as the result of government policy but because of societal discrimination, economic characteristics, or what Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion, termed “any number of innocent private decisions, including voluntary housing choices.” In Roberts’ terminology, commonly accepted by policymakers from across the political spectrum, constitutionally forbidden segregation established by federal, state or local government action is , with no constitutional remedy – not only in Louisville and Seattle, but in all metropolitan areas, North and South. Durable effects of concentrated disadvantage on verbal ability among African-American children.. Health indicators for preadolescent school-age children.
Even the liberal dissenters in the Louisville-Seattle case, led by Justice Stephen Breyer, agreed with this characterization. Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project, University of Washington.
When a school’s proportion of students at risk of failure grows, the consequences of disadvantage are exacerbated.
In schools with high proportions of disadvantaged children, It is inconceivable that significant gains can be made in the achievement of black children who are so severely isolated.