Gentrification and Education

by Isabel Gomez

April 26, 2017

Gentrification. It continues to occur throughout the city. Williamsburg, East and Central Harlem, Washington Heights. While it is disheartening as it tears apart communities of working-class families who can only afford to live in that area, it may bring around some integration for the school in that surrounding community. According to data collected by WNYC, public schools have 67 percent black and latinx students, while only 24 percent white students make up the school population. With these population numbers, find a perfect way to integrate is very difficult. However, the gentrification that is occurring in about 15 neighborhood all across the five boroughs may bring some positivity to the school systems. For 32 districts in New York, it is difficult to redraw zoning lines as the majority of the community belongs to one specific socio-economic level, which does not lend too much integration.

However, with higher income families moving into lower-income neighborhoods, the schools will also see a change in resources and the overall quality of education.  Students in these low-income neighborhood will be able to meet children with different backgrounds of their own. As well as, start conversations and learn about different cultures. The parents of these children “value exposure to diversity and economic inequality as an important part of their children’s education, and use the neighborhood schools as a vehicle to teach their kids about their own privilege.” Parents with higher income will also be able to donate to the community schools which will result in better resources for the schools. However, all of this is possible only if these higher-income families decide to enroll their child in their neighborhood school. While they may be concerned about the test scores, racial makeup, and the culture of the school, they could change this for the better by enrolling their child in the public school.

Nonetheless, the risk of the minority students being pushed out of their own neighborhoods by an increase in rent is still very real. This is when help from our lawmakers may come into play, “The ideal response is a vehicle that allows in-place residents to remain but also allows them to choose whether to leave, rather than being involuntarily displaced.” Finding a way to turn gentrification into integration may actually be beneficial in the issue of our school system. While this may be through rent control or vouchers for those who have lived in the community for a  certain period of time, the change needs to come in order to both save the low-income neighborhoods  and bring about equity in our edu