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The School Attendance and Residential Location Balancing Act

Community, Choice, Diversity, and Achievement

Ellen Goldring and Walker Swain

May 2014, English

Ellen B. Goldring and Walker Swain evaluate the impact parental choices have on residential location and schooling. This paper is divided into three loosely chronological sections that focus in turn on residential location–schooling linkages, policies such as court-mandated busing and school choice that reduce the link between residential location and schooling, and the relinking of residential location and schooling. Goldring and Swain focus on changes to government policies which can impact academic achievement.

The authors note that transportation costs and parents’ interest in placing their children in nearby schools with particular racial and ethnic mixes limit the impact school choice policies can have in unlinking residential choice from schooling. They also note that balancing sometimes mutually conflicting positive goals is one of the challenges in choosing the best public policies. For example, although research has shown that segregated schools have detrimental impacts on academic achievement for blacks, using coercive policies to reduce segregation can erode community engagement.

This paper was presented at the Lincoln Institute’s annual Land Policy Conference in 2013 and is Chapter 4 of the book Education, Land, and Location.


Community Development, Economic Development, Housing, Inequality, Local Government, Public Policy, Segregation, Transportation