Understanding segregation by income may be just as, if not more, important than segregation by race for several reasons. First, studies documenting a link between school composition and student outcomes concur that classmates’ socioeconomic status is a key pathway for peer effects. Second, the educational achievement and attainment gaps between high- and low-income students have grown over the past several decades, and the income achievement gap is now larger than the racial achievement gap, indicating that economic stratification is an important source of inequality. Finally, following the 2007 PICS Supreme Court ruling, school choice policies can no longer take race into account. Many districts are instead implementing socioeconomic-based school assignment (SBSA) plans, so documenting trends in economic segregation is important for assessing these policies.
The summary at the end amounts to this:
Policymakers must consider alternative ideas to promote economic integration across districts and schools. Otherwise, as two recent This American Life episodes depicted, school segregation will remain “the problem we all live with,” an additional arena in which the gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing.
Is it a problem we will continue to live with.