Cambridge schools have achieved slightly more economic integration since the decision five years ago to balance schools by family income rather than race and ethnicity, reports the Boston Globe. Before the plan, the percentage of low-income students ranged from 20 percent to 75 percent; now the range is 28 percent to 62 percent.
However, nearly 60 percent of Cambridge’s 12 elementary schools are racially imbalanced, compared with less than 40 percent before.
Cambridge student body is 36 percent black, 35.7 percent white, 14.7 percent Hispanic and 11 percent Asian. Integration — economic or racial — doesn’t seem to be a priority for parents.
Parents choose schools where they feel the most comfortable, and their choices often split along racial lines. Some high-poverty, mostly minority schools have low-income families on their waiting lists but have trouble filling spots reserved for middle-class students. And some higher income schools popular among middle class families have empty seats for low-income students.
“Even the best social engineering ideas get circumvented by people,” said Scott Blaufuss, a stay-at-home father in Cambridge. “People tend to vote with their feet. If they don’t like it, they leave.”
Student achievement has risen in most schools. But middle-class white families have left some schools that received more low-income students.