White parents still want to live near mostly white schools — and in LA, it shows
White kids in the nation's largest cities continue to live among mostly white neighbors — in large part, according to a new University of Southern California study, because white parents want to live in communities served by predominantly white schools.
The study is part of a new attempt by USC associate professor of sociology Ann Owens to link education researchers' findings about the demographic makeup inside the nation's classrooms — where racial segregation remains a persistent problem — with research on where people in different racial groups choose to live.
"School district [boundaries] can serve as these sort of bright lines," Owens said — a "bright line" that may do more to shape some parents' choices than the somewhat arbitrary lines between individual neighborhoods or U.S. Census tracts.
For example, in Los Angeles County, Owens said, a parent's "first order question might be, 'Do I want to live in LAUSD, or do I want to live in South Pasadena?' Or somewhere else where they might prefer the school district?"
To study these "bright lines," Owens essentially overlaid school district boundaries onto maps of the neighborhood-by-neighborhood racial makeup in the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas.
Her analysis found that, in 2010, 56 percent of residential segregation between white and non-white families with kids occurred between school districts.
In other words, school district boundaries explained most of the residential segregation between white families with kids and non-white families with kids.
"It sort of signals to me that white parents in particular are paying attention to school district boundaries when they’re choosing they’re neighborhoods,” Owens said — a choice white parents have more freedom to make because they have higher incomes, on average, and are less likely to face housing discrimination than non-white parents.
Nationally, the average white child lives in a neighborhood where roughly 70 percent White parents still want to live near mostly white schools — and in LA, it shows | 89.3 KPCC: