Taking housing, education equity beyond the school doors
Now they are going a step further, by organizing a broad coalition to tackle a bigger problem: racial and economic segregation in schools and housing.
“The inequity that exists in our region is literally killing our children and killing our communities,” said Christie Huck, executive director of City Garden.
She spoke to about 70 individuals gathered Friday at the charter school to better understand the problem before them: neighborhoods and schools that are segregated by race and economics. Children who live in segregated areas often attend schools with the highest teacher turnover, the fewest resources and the lowest test scores. They experience the worst health outcomes and have the lowest life expectancy.
And while disparities are a problem throughout the St. Louis area, the coalition that gathered at the school will start by focusing on the five neighborhoods that surround it: Botanical Heights, Shaw and Forest Park Southeast and parts of Tiffany and Southwest Garden.
Numerous studies show that low-income students perform better academically when they share classrooms with affluent children. But increasingly, children who qualify for federally subsidized lunches are in classrooms where the enrollment is overwhelmingly poor.
Black students are more likely than white students to attend schools with high concentrations of poverty. Close to 60 percent of black children in St. Louis and St. Louis County attend schools where more than 80 percent of their classmates are also black, according to a Post-Dispatch analysis of school enrollment data.
House said integration is not about putting students of different income levels beside each other for the sake of doing it. It’s about ensuring the same level of access to counselors, library books, good teachers and honors courses.
The five neighborhoods listed here are prime targets for gentrification, and Forest Park Southeast is the official name for The Grove, which is where one finds many LGBTQetc clubs and establishments. So far, gentrification efforts in those neighborhoods have been rather uneven; you’ll remember St. Sandwich of Ham, Vonderrit Myers, Jr. — He lived and that happened in Shaw.
So now you add this into this story, where everyone is kvetching about all this segregation going on, as if it hasn’t already been illegal for years nationally and for even longer locally, and everyone is thinking, in spite of study after study showing otherwise, that “low-income students perform better academically when they share classrooms with affluent children.”
What does it all add up to?
City Garden Montessori is going to hand out a lot of AFFH applications.