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“The quality of education that students receive should not vary depending on which side of town you live on,” writes VOX ATL’s Kayden Skeete. “Students cannot choose what side of town they are born on or which school district they are zoned to.”

Photos by Kayden Skeete

The Downside to the South Side: How Redlining Impacts School Quality

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North Atlanta and South Atlanta are two places in the same city that are so incredibly different. This is because Atlanta is one of the many cities that is still suffering from the effects of redlining. According to the online financial management publication Investopedia, redlining, which began with the National Housing Act of 1934, is a system that provided financial services for certain groups of people based on their race. “Lenders would literally draw a red line on a map around the neighborhoods they would not invest in based on demographics alone. Black inner-city neighborhoods were most likely to be redlined.” This discriminatory financial-lending practice — which was legal until 1977 — is what sparked the difference that is now very apparent between north and south Atlanta.

Luxury vehicle parked outside of a high-end shop in Atlanta’s affluent Buckhead community. (Photo: Kayden Skeete)
Discount shoe store located in Atlanta’s historic West End community. (Photo: Kayden Skeete)

There are some factors that aren’t as visible as housing that are still impacted due to the effects redlining has had. One of these factors is the education system. According to Atlanta Public Schools (APS), Within the school system’s 91 learning sites, there are 58 neighborhood schools, two citywide single-gender academies, three alternative programs, six partner schools, and 18 charter schools. Since July, 2019, the number of students enrolled in Atlanta Public Schools is approximately 52,000 students. Two examples of schools located in north and south Atlanta are perfect examples of how where one lives can greatly impact the quality of education they receive. This is a major issue. Equity and equality is lacking. There are a number of students who are not receiving as good of an education as they should be receiving. The distinction between the ratings of North Atlanta High School and South Atlanta High School shows how the quality of education students are receiving is not the same. According school ratings on a website called Niche, which uses the most up-to-date data available, which often comes from the Department of Education, U.S. Census, and FBI. North Atlanta High School is rated an A-, while South Atlanta High School is rated a C.

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The Georgia Department of Education’s website also shows the distinction between north and south Atlanta in the 2019 College and Career Ready Performance Index, where North Atlanta High School shows an overall score of 86.4% with a readiness index of 82.6% and a graduation rate of 92%. South Atlanta High School shows an overall score of 62, a readiness index of 52.7%, and a graduation rate of 86.8%. There is a clear distinction between these schools. Almost 90% of the students from North Atlanta High School are ready for college and careers, while only about half of the students at South Atlanta High School are prepared for college and careers according to the state’s data.

This is part of what makes the cycle continue. If students are not prepared for what is to come after high school, then they will likely not be accepted into good universities (if they can go to college at all), which will allow them to eventually be hired for well-paying jobs. Because of the way our society is set up as of right now, money is what allows people to have access to better quality education.

This is a cycle that has been repeating for many years, and it doesn’t seem like it will come to an end any time soon. The system of redlining was put in place in order to continue to segregate people based on their race. When looking at the schools’ student populations, North Atlanta High School scored an A+ in diversity on Niche, in comparison to South Atlanta High School which has scored a C+ in diversity. This is a clear indication that the effects of redlining still remain. South Atlanta High School is mostly populated with African-Americans (and 100% are considered “economically disadvantaged” according to the Georgia Department of Education data); whereas, North Atlanta High School is populated with many different race groups (and about 30% of the student body is considered “economically disadvantaged” according to the DOE report).

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Discount Mall located in Southwest Atlanta. (Photo: Kayden Skeete)
Lenox Mall located in Northeast Atlanta. (Photo: Kayden Skeete)

The idea of wanting to separate people based on their race is a reality that we have not yet escaped. This is causing more minorities (African-Americans specifically) to receive a quality of education that is not very good in comparison to the quality of education that the students receive at North Atlanta High School, where there are a wide variety of race groups enrolled. This is part of why the cycle is continuing. Although North Atlanta High School has many students who are of many different race groups (it’s one-third white), there is an issue that still remains regarding the quality of education that the students receive at a predominately African-American school.

My opinion

The quality of education that students receive should not vary depending on which side of town you live on. Students cannot choose what side of town they are born on or which school district they are zoned to. Some students are lucky enough to be able to be born on a side of town with strong educational systems in comparison to others who have to suffer from the effects of redlining. Nobody can choose the cards that they are dealt, and when a certain group of people are continuously dealt that cards that make their lives more difficult, the cycle become repetitive. Equity in education is not a want; it is a need.

 

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