"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

NCLB Widens Real Estate Gap

One of the promises of No Child Left Behind is that it would close the achievement gap between poor, minority students and their wealthier, whiter peers. But, after four long years and a dose of reality, the law is driving a bigger wedge between the haves and the have nots as it widens the real estate gap and the economic gap in communities across the country. In effect, NCLB is actually widening the achievement gap as students in poor neighborhoods are left behind.

If there's any doubt left about the link between race, poverty and test scores, just take a look at this story from Greensboro, North Carolina on how NCLB and its punitive sanctions labeling schools as failing has led to white flight not just from certain neighborhoods but from public schools in general. The attempt in NC to balance inequities through redistriting and busing, is now generating long waiting lists at private and charter schools and lots of indigestion among real estate agents.

The word among real estate agents plying their trade in this transitional area between High Point and Jamestown is that Southwest is clearly the coveted high school among parents seeking to give their children maximum leverage in the contest for upward mobility.

The numbers, posted on the internet in accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act's mandate for accountability, leave little room for argument. Southwest earned an "expected growth" designation, with at least 60 percent of its students performing at grade level, and its rate of violent incidents was a quarter of Andrew's and half the state average. While neither school met the federal government's adequate yearly progress requirements, Southwest met 15 out of 17 of its target goals while Andrews met only 10 out of 20.

Those performance measures coincide with a widening demographic variance between the two high schools. In the last school year, Andrews' student body was 79 percent non-white while Southwest's student body was 56 percent white; 55 percent of Andrews' students took advantage of the federal government's free and reduced lunch program while only 26 percent of Southwest's did so. The swap - which will transfer students from the Penny Road area where Barr lives and the White's Mill Road area from Southwest to Andrews, and in exchange bus students who once attended Andrews from the middle-class African-American community of Eastwood to Southwest -seeks to even those statistics.
NCLB is clearly a driving force behind the hard bigotry of low real estate prices, another reason it needs to be scrapped. Perhaps teachers and real estate agents should join forces in repealing this draconian nightmare that is turning the clock back on segregation about 200 years.

There are about a dozen houses up for sale in the Meadows subdivision, and while their owners are moving for different reasons, finding new buyers is not always easy."If you have parents with kids in school, probably your top priority is getting kids in good schools," said Scott Proctor, a realtor with Re/Max.

"I've had parents come to me where the only school they would look at is Northwest, and they're basing everything on test scores they looked at on the internet. I'm not saying Andrews is not a good school, but change in general is hard for folks."Proctor has had to knock $10,000 off a house listing for $195,000 on Cole Avenue and is still having difficulty finding a buyer.

"I'm really scratching my head with that one," he said. "To me, that house should have already sold. It's in a great neighborhood and a popular neighborhood."
It's time to stop scratching your head and call your representatives in Congress.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. I never thought about how NCLB could not only lead to school segregation but also political and geographical segregation as well.
    Thank you for bringing this to my attention.