June 7, 2012
New York City neighborhoods that undergo gentrification don’t always wind up with diverse schools.
In the Community section today, Jennifer Stillman explains her research into why — and her suggestions for how the city could tip the scales toward school integration in changing neighborhoods.
Stillman’s Community section contribution is part of “Useable Knowledge,” a GothamSchools feature that aims to promote policy based off of educational research. In the series, researchers present their research and findings, as well as policy implications that could inform education policy locally and elsewhere. And readers are invited to join the conversation.
Stillman studied the relationship between neighborhood gentrification and school integration as a doctoral student in politics and education at Columbia University’s Teachers College. She found that public schools in gentrifying neighborhoods offer the perfect opportunity for social mixing between people of different backgrounds — but that getting “gentry parents,” her term for upper-middle-class, white newcomers, to send their children to those schools is difficult.
School integration in gentrifying neighborhoods does happen, but rarely. It happens through a chain of actions and reactions of different types of gentry parents, each with a different threshold for tolerating their own minority status, each with a different idea about whether they can and should try to change a school to better match their preferences.
To learn even more, look out for the book that grew out of Stillman’s dissertation research, “Gentrification and Schools: The Process of Integration When Whites Reverse Flight.” It hits shelves in August, but Stillman’s publisher has offered a 20 percent discount to GothamSchools readers who order it now. Use promotion code P356ED.