The report, called Fault Lines, doesn't stop there.
"What we did is built an algorithm that identified all 33,500 school district borders in the country ... and compared their school-aged child poverty rates," says Rebecca Sibilia, the founder and CEO of EdBuild.
From this comparison Sibilia's team compiled a list of the 50 most segregating school boundaries in the nation — in short, the district borders with the largest difference in child poverty rates from one side to the other. In this case, "segregating" is being used to talk specifically about class, not race, though the two often overlap, especially in America's large, urban school systems.
Rounding out the Top 3 on the Fault Lines list are the Birmingham City School District in Alabama, and ... the Birmingham City School District in Alabama.
In fact, of Birmingham's 13 school district boundaries, six landed on EdBuild's list of the 50 most segregating. That's because the poverty rate of Birmingham's students is 49 percent, while the district is surrounded by several far smaller, far more affluent districts: Vestavia Hills (6 percent child poverty), Mountain Brook (7 percent), Trussville (10 percent), the list goes on.
Birmingham's district lines weren't always a story of haves and have nots, at least not this glaring. Most of the affluent districts now bordering the city's schools were once part of the larger Jefferson County School District. But, over the years, they have seceded, using their considerable property tax wealth to create new mini-districts.
Interestingly, Birmingham stands out not only because of its multiple appearances but because Alabama is the only Southern state on the list (unless you count Kentucky or Missouri). One reason for this, says Sibilia, is that in much of the South, county borders do double-duty as school district borders, "and so there is less opportunity for intentional segregation."
In fact, Sibilia says, she and her team "were shocked. We honestly believed we were going to see a lot of this in the South and very little in the North."