Study: Impoverished students and black students suffer greater impact from closure of Houston schools

Researchers find that black and impoverished students suffer greater impact from closure of Houston schools.

school bus

School closures disproportionately displace impoverished and black students, according to a new study from researchers at Southern Methodist University and Rice University’s Houston Education Research Consortium.

In a look at the Houston Independent School District’s school closures between 2003 and 2010, researchers found that schools with a higher proportion of black students were particularly likely to be targeted by closures, said education policy researcher Meredith Richards, co-author of the study and assistant professor in the Department of Education Policy and Leadership at SMU, Dallas.

“This is particularly concerning,” Richards said, “given the pernicious history of inequity and structural racism and the already problematic achievement gaps between blacks and whites in Houston and nationally.”

Also, more than 90 percent of students were economically disadvantaged, qualifying for free or reduced meals under the federal school lunch program.

School closures in the face of tight budgets are a challenge nationwide — for both urban and rural districts.

The researchers note that students displaced by school closures in Houston did generally transfer to schools that were better performing than those that closed. However, there were concerning racial differences in transfer patterns.

White and Asian students displaced by closure are twice as likely as black and Hispanic students to transfer to high-performing schools, while most black and Hispanic students transferred to low-quality schools.

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