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  • The Narrative Project

CT Voices Report: Housing and Education Policies Maintain School Segregation in Connecticut


October 15, 2020 Ashlee Niedospial 570.778.5916

New Haven, CT – Connecticut Voices for Children today released a report entitled, "Separate & Unequal: The Interactive Effects of Housing and Education Policies on School Segregation in Connecticut", which examines how residential segregation in Connecticut—and the subsequent educational segregation—persists due to ongoing racial discrimination, current town zoning ordinances, and school district boundaries. Currently, Connecticut’s housing and education policies disrupt opportunities for investments in Black and Latinx communities by failing to mitigate residential and school segregation. “Connecticut’s housing system is cemented in policies and practices that perpetuate a culture of separate and unequal,” said Emily Byrne, Executive Director of Connecticut Voices for Children. “For generations, housing and education exclusionary policies and practices, fueled by racial discrimination, have impeded opportunity for Black and Latinx communities in the state. In order for all Connecticut children to reach their full potential, we must acknowledge, dismantle, and rebuild housing and education policies and practices with an equity lens.” When there are more restrictions on the construction of multi-family housing, towns are more exclusionary—residents are wealthier, schools have more funding, and the student body within schools is whiter. Towns that allow multi-family housing by right, as opposed to by exception or not at all, have more affordable housing, smaller lot sizes, and more diverse schools. Racial segregation in public schools is closely linked with economic segregation, concentrating low-income children of color into schools with limited resources. “Connecticut's large disparities in educational achievement, suffered primarily by Black students and other students of color, occur due to limited access to resources and opportunities,” said Erin Sheehan, Legislation and Data Analyst with Connecticut Voices for Children. “Addressing residential segregation is necessary if we want to begin to tackle school segregation and the disparities it causes and exacerbates.” Race often plays a huge role in educational disparities, with previous Connecticut Voices for Children research observing that not only do Black and Latinx students in Connecticut face huge disparities in outcomes, but they are also often highly concentrated in several districts throughout the state. “Residential segregation, and worsening educational segregation, did not happen by accident,” said Ryan Wilson, Research and Policy Associate with Connecticut Voices for Children. “In response, we must be very intentional about the steps we take to reverse the damaging impacts of Connecticut’s long history of utilizing exclusionary zoning practices. Developing affordable housing, something our state is sorely lacking, is a clear and immediate step we must take to help mitigate the impacts of residential and school segregation.” The report, which outlines thirteen recommendations, asserts that addressing residential segregation is the most straightforward approach to combat school segregation, but also notes that additional steps should be taken to address segregation from the educational standpoint as well as address other structural issues. Zoning laws and school attendance zones, in combination, can contribute to or mitigate school segregation within Connecticut’s towns. To address housing and school segregation, the report outlines recommendations to:

  • Create more affordable housing,

  • Address segregation from the educational standpoint, and

  • Address other structural issues, specifically as it relates to income and wealth inequality.

In order to improve opportunity for, and investment in, Black and Latinx communities, desegregation of Connecticut’s neighborhoods and schools is critical. View the full report here. View the Just Facts here.

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About Connecticut Voices for Children Connecticut Voices for Children is a “think and do” tank working to ensure that Connecticut is a thriving and equitable state, and where all children achieve their full potential. In furtherance of its vision, Connecticut Voices for Children produces high-quality research and analysis, promotes citizen education, advocates for policy change at the state and local level, and works to develop the next generation of leaders.

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