Education policy researcher Michael McShane, who once taught English at a historically African-American Catholic school in Montgomery, Alabama, explains how public schools segregate students:
Because the lion’s share of our public schools are residentially assigned, and because our neighborhoods are, by and large, segregated, we see racial and socio-economic stratification in our schools. Houses in neighborhoods zoned for better public schools cost more, and therefore people have to pay “tuition” (in the form of a higher mortgage) to get their children into them.
Look at the breakdown by race of the seven public high schools in Montgomery. The only schools that are less than 80 percent African-American are the three academically-selective magnet schools. This tells us that in Montgomery if you want to attend something other than a hyper-segregated school with a less than 52 percent graduation rate you must qualify for a magnet, move to the suburbs, or pay to attend a private school. That is neither right nor fair. School choice, done right, can offer stronger academic alternatives without sacrificing the public mission of schooling.