Monday, August 10, 2009

It's not the neighborhoods

Caveat: I have not read the whole study. That said ...

"Four in five black children who started in the top three quintiles experienced downward mobility compared with just two in five white children."

The Pew Charitable Trust studied black children in the top 60% of income who lived in high poverty neighborhoods as opposed to low poverty neighborhoods in the 1980s and determined that poverty in the neighborhood increased downward mobility by 52%. Neighborhood poverty explains between 1/4th and 1/3rd of the downward mobility gap between blacks and whites.

While 59% of whites from the bottom two quintiles were upwardly mobile, only 25% of the black counterparts were. When the poverty rate of black children’s neighborhoods dropped by 10% in the 1980s, their family income was nearly $7,000 greater in 2005.The implication, of course, is that we must reduce concentrations of poverty in neighborhoods as well as schools. But "even today 30% of black children experience a level of neighborhood poverty - a rate of 30% or more - unknown among white children. - John Thompson

I wholeheartedly agree that our society must reduce poverty across the board, especially when it is shown to affect some people disproportionally.

I disagree with the blog poster's implication of "it's the neighborhood", meaning the neighborhood is the problem in student achievement. The image he chooses to accompany the post is particularly uncalled for.

First of all the study only says that coming from a high-poverty neighborhood accounts for 1/4 to 1/3 of downward mobility in achievement. The rest is unexplained (in this blurb, anyway). What about the structural racism a child experiences from the moment he enters school?

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