Pandering and Student Assignment Policy

Full Case Study available in Dilemmas of Educational Ethics, or read a journal article featuring this case study: Original Journal | Open Access

 

Summary/Preview: Urban school districts struggle to serve all students' needs, including both the low-income children of color who tend to comprise the bulk of urban school students and also the middle-class children of predominantly white new urbanites who have been drawn back into the city in recent years.  These middle class families have the clout to pull additional resources into the public schools, if they join the system, but their values and preferences aren't always consonant with those held by lower-income parents.  In designing a new school assignment plan, is it ethical to pander to middle class families’ preferences so as to draw them, and their social and economic capital, into the public system?

 

Additional resource: See this amazing graphic representation of residential and school segregation patterns across the U.S., including a terrific "find your own district" feature, to reflect further about how school assignment policies may influence families' residential and school choice decisions. Vox: "Mapping the Imaginary Lines We Use to Segregate Our Schools"