Downtown, Brooklyn

65 years since Brown v Board of Education struck down laws that segregated public schools by race, US schools are resegregating. Nationwide, more than half of U.S. students are in racially concentrated districts, where more than 75% of the students are either White or non-White. These districts are also often segregated by income.


New York City is home to one of the most segregated public school systems in the country. One of the main reasons is real estate. Since neighborhoods in the city are highly segregated, with some comprised of 90% of one race, it follows that the schools in these neighborhoods would also be highly segregated. But in some cases, NYC schools are even more segregated than their neighborhoods. This trend is increasingly common in neighborhoods undergoing gentrification and increasing in diversity. The reason behind this is school choice policies. In these neighborhoods, 60% of families, including 43% of White families, opt out of their zoned schools.

P.S. 287, an elementary school in Downtown Brooklyn, stands as a clear example of school choice driving segregation. The school’s district is home to a majority Black and Latino public housing project, but in recent years, more White families have moved into the zone. White residents now make up 28% of the school’s zoned population and 46% of the neighborhood’s overall population. But in 2016-17, only two White children attended P.S. 287. Though the neighborhood is 41% Black and/or Latino, Black and Latino children made up 90% of students at P.S. 287. 94% of students qualified for the free lunch program.

Gentrifying Neighborhoods