WaPo | "We always think, well, we’re never going to have integrated schools as long as we have such highly segregated neighborhoods," she says. "I want to point out maybe we’ll never have integrated neighborhoods if we have segregated schools."
If we found ways to integrate schools — as former District Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) controversially proposed two years ago — that might take some of the exclusivity out of certain neighborhoods. School quality is capitalized into housing prices, making those neighborhoods unaffordable to many families. Imagine, for instance, if all the public schools in the District or the Washington region were integrated and of comparable quality. Families might pay more to live in Northwest to be near Rock Creek Park. But you'd see fewer home-bidding wars there just to access scarce school quality. More to the point, homes families already paid handsomely to buy might lose some of their value.
Politically, the two topics that most enrage voters are threats to property values and local schools. So either of these ideas — wielding housing policy to affect schools, or school policy to affect housing — would be tough sells. Especially to anyone who has secured both the desirable address and a seat in the best kindergarten in town. Parents in Upper Northwest, for instance, deeply opposed the idea of ending neighborhood schools in Washington. And Gray's proposal never came to pass.
But, Owens says, "I feel more hopeful in studying these issues today than I did five years ago." At least, she says, we are all now talking more about inequality and segregation.