by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
In the 2020 update to Fault Lines: America’s Most Segregating School District Borders, EdBuild researchers write,
In a similar vein, consider North Carolina, an economically diverse state that might be expected to contain some steeply segregating school district borders. But North Carolina has few of the kind of microdistricts whose borders divide students in other states. Instead, its borders are mostly drawn more broadly, at the county level. This means that a wealthy town like Oak Ridge does not have the ability to keep rich local tax dollars just for its relatively few students; its revenues are shared with the broader community of Guilford County. Economic inequality is a reality on the ground: Oak Ridge’s median home is worth $338,000, more than double the county’s overall figure of $160,000, and Oak Ridge’s school-aged poverty rate is just 2%, well below Guilford County’s rate of 18% poverty. Guilford’s central city of Greensboro has an even higher rate: over one in four of its children live in poverty. But those economic facts do not dictate opportunity for Guilford students, who may share and share alike in all the county’s wealth. With inclusive school district borders like these, it is not surprising that North Carolina is completely absent from the list of the country’s most segregating school district borders. States like North Carolina show that there is nothing inevitable about the deep divides we see elsewhere in the country, and that another choice about how to draw school district boundaries can do a great deal to shrink those gaps.
North Carolina is one of four states that are absent from the list of most segregated school district borders. The others are South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.