Sunday, October 9, 2005

Race, Wealth, Education, Housing

Matt Williams writes persuasively on the front page of the News & Record today that family wealth is a stronger predictor of Greensboro students' school performance than race.

It's a great story -- a better one than a recent NY Times story about income, race, and EOG tests in Wake County, NC that I referred to here and here. Matt did excellent independent research.

The fact that minorities have been scoring dramatically better over the past decade in Guilford County may mainly be due to the fact that African-Americans and Hispanics have been moving steadily into the middle and upper classes.

But the low-income neighborhoods they've been leaving behind remain sloughs of badly-educated kids. That's one reason I'm very interested in neighborhoods like Willow Oaks, where the planners have deliberately built low-income units amid middle- and upper-middle class houses.

The idea is to spread "cultural capital" or "social capital" into neighborhoods where it has been lacking or slowly draining away.

Will it work? I don't know. Is it worth a try? Absolutely.

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