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New Study: 5 Ways Racist 1930s Housing Policies Still Haunt Schools

Disparities in education funding, academic performance and school segregation still persist along racist lines drawn in the late 1930s, a new study has found.

In the aftermath of the Great Depression, the U.S. government mapped out the supposed risk for mortgage lenders in neighborhoods across hundreds of cities — basing their assessments largely on the area’s racial makeup. Zones deemed high-risk, often inhabited by Black, immigrant, and Jewish populations, were coded in red by mapmakers, spurring the policy’s infamous name: redlining.

In their new study, “The Lingering Legacy of Redlining on School Funding, Diversity, and Performance,” released by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University as a working paper, co-authors Christopher Cleveland and Dylan Lukes, both PhD candidates in education policy at Harvard University, became the first scholars to link the New Deal-era practice to current day school outcomes.

Nearly a century later, the disparities remain dramatic.

“The persistence of some of these trends is definitely cause for reflection,” Cleveland told The 74.

Prior scholarship has traced how discriminatory lending practices allowed white families to access home ownership in newly built suburbs, while Black and immigrant families were largely denied loans — explaining part of America’s racial wealth gap. Author Richard Rothstein, who wrote The Color of Law, described the programs as a “state-sponsored system of segregation.”

“The maps are really old, like 1930s, 1940s,” said Cleveland. “That’s a very different time in our country, and so you would not think that these associations would exist.”

But they do. The practice haunts education outcomes to this day, the study found.

Read entire article at The 74