Why Some White Middle-Class Families Are Opting Out Of Their Neighborhood Schools

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Photo: City Year AmeriCorps at Denver's North High School
City Year corps member doing service in a ninth-grade algebra classroom at Denver’s North High School. From left: student Alaya Martinez, corps member Patrick Santino and student Dorian Medina.

White middle-class families are finding more affordable Denver homes in what have been traditionally minority neighborhoods. But instead of staying in the area for education, those families are sending their kids to schools outside of the neighborhoods, even if it means lengthy commutes. Melanie Asmar talked to Colorado Matters about a story she wrote on this trend for Chalkbeat.

Families have been able to select schools outside of their neighborhoods for a decade, after Denver moved to a school choice approach. School choice was meant to encourage integration, but in this case it seems to be having the opposite effect, as parents are moving their children to schools with higher test scores. This is in spite of research that shows integrated schools boost test scores for students of color and students from low-income families, without lowering the scores of students from wealthier ones.