Conference Reading: A Bold Agenda for School Integration

At a time when our democracy is fractured along the fault lines of race, ethnicity, and religion, and when social mobility has stalled, high-quality integrated public schools could take us on a better path forward. Racial and socioeconomic school integration has proven to be one of the most powerful strategies known to educators to improve the lives of students and reduce national division. Yet, in the face of growing school segregation, the federal government currently commits only a paltry amount of resources to support integration. To close the gap between the dire need for action and the absence of federal leadership, this report proposes a number of policy ideas for members of Congress to consider. (TCF)

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Conference Reading: Montgomery County Home Prices Reach 10-Year High

The median price of a home that sold in Maryland’s Montgomery County in July was $466,000, 2.6% more than a year earlier, and the highest July level in the past 10 years. The Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors notes a rise in sales as well, with closed sales up 8.1% from a year earlier, and pending sales or contracts signed, up 6.3%. Like most of the rest of the Washington, D.C., region, there are fewer listings in Montgomery County than there were a year ago. (Md. Matters)

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Conference Reading: The Case Against Exclusionary Zoning

In a new policy paper, Michael Stegman, a senior housing policy fellow at the Milken Institute Center for Financial Markets, argues that the collective impact of decades of layering exclusionary zoning and land use controls is not just higher housing prices. These regulations, he says, are also a powerful contributor to declining rates of economic mobility and productivity growth, and widening disparities in the wealth of white and black Americans. While having local roots, exclusionary land use practices have clearly become a national problem that Stegman says requires bold national action. (NAHBNow)

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Conference Reading: Desegregation Plan: Eliminate All Gifted Programs in New York

For years, New York City has essentially maintained two parallel public school systems. A group of selective schools and programs geared to students labeled gifted and talented is filled mostly with white and Asian children. The rest of the system is open to all students and is predominantly black and Hispanic. Now, a high-level panel appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio is recommending that the city do away with most of these selective programs in an effort to desegregate the system, which has 1.1 million students and is by far the largest in the country. (NY Times)

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Conference Reading: Racial Equity Concerns Surface at Public Forum on School Redistricting

Issues of race dominated the second of six public forums exploring what a countywide study on public school boundaries should strive to achieve. The Thursday night meeting at Quince Orchard High School in North Potomac, attended by about 50 people, included questions of what would happen if students from schools with poor academic performance were moved into schools with higher achievement. "They won’t be able to keep up and they won’t study,” one parent said. Other parents said white families are being punished for “working hard and doing well and choosing to live in a certain community.” (Bethesda)

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Conference Reading: Liberals for Inequality

My colleague Binyamin Appelbaum recently went to a meeting of the Montgomery County Council in suburban Maryland. There, he watched well-off homeowners fight against a new ordinance to create additional housing. “You work hard, and you get to go live in Montgomery County,” one retired lawyer said. “Does that mean it has to be the first place you live? No. You can drive a little further and work your way up to it.” The attitudes at that meeting were another example of Nimbyism — the “not in my backyard” phenomenon, in which people oppose development in their own communities, even when it would have big benefits. Nimbyism has also been an issue in San Francisco, New York, Boston and other metropolitan areas. (New York Times)

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Conference Reading: NCSHA Washington Report

In an otherwise thoughtful overview of the housing crisis and the various proposals to address it from Democrats running for president, Vox’s Matthew Iglesias concludes, “There’s no particular reason the real estate problems facing writers in a handful of expensive coastal cities should dominate the national policy conversation,” and so, “housing looks more like a niche state and local issue that happens to be salient in the country’s main media and political circles … likely as it should be.” As the current frontrunner among the Democrats might say, “What a bunch of malarkey.” In fact, 54 million people live in rural areas that the USDA says have a “most severe need” or “moderately severe need” for the production of more affordable rental housing. (NCSHA)

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Conference Reading: Inequities in Opportunity and Achievement in Maryland

"Maryland has long prided itself on its education system. A deeper look at the data, however, shows that statewide averages mask deep inequities in opportunity for certain groups of students. These gaps in opportunity lead to gaps in achievement between students of color and White students, as well as between low-income students and higher income students. What’s more, racial inequities persist among students of similar family income levels. To be clear, these disparities are a reflection of how we organize our schools and shortchange certain students when it comes to critical educational opportunities/resources from early childhood through high school." (Ed Trust)

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