Social and Spatial Inequalities of Educational Opportunity: A Portrait of Schools Serving High- and Low-Income Neighbourhoods in US Metropolitan Areas

Abstract:

Neighbourhoods and schools are both important contexts for children’s wellbeing. While often posited, little evidence documents inequalities in schools serving high- and low-income neighbourhoods. In this article, we use geospatial techniques to combine five administrative data sets to examine the characteristics of local public schools serving high- and low-income neighbourhoods in US metropolitan areas in 2013–2014. We find that high-income neighbourhoods are served by schools with greater social, financial, and instructional resources and greater student achievement than schools serving low-income neighbourhoods. Moreover, when metropolitan neighbourhoods are highly segregated by income, these inequalities are exacerbated. Our results demonstrate the link between neighbourhood and school disadvantage, with implications for policymakers concerned about social mobility and inequality.

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