The Supreme Court ruled in 1974 (Bradley v. Milliken) that a court could not order desegregation across district lines. The case referred to Detroit, which was highly segregated. That put an end to the possibility of metropolitan districts like the one already established in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC. The children of Detroit were doomed to remain in segregated, underfunded schools in an increasingly impoverished district.

This article reports the findings of a study of the most segregating lines dividing the children of different races.

[ALERT: I was just informed that Edbuild is funded by reformers who want to destroy our public schools. Keep that in mind as you read—DR]

“A few blocks away from Bernita Bradley’s house, the Detroit Public School district ends and the Grosse Pointe Public School System begins. The border is invisible, but with a 12-year-old daughter enrolled in DPS, the reminders for Bradley are impossible to ignore. Every student seems to have a Macbook. There’s the annual Grosse Pointe toy drive, which distributes free bicycles to kids who need them. And there are the parks with shiny new playground equipment, where parents routinely ask Bradley, “Do you live around here?”

“Ours are torn down and dilapidated,” Bradley says. “Just seeing theirs makes me feel bad.“

“According to a new report and interactive map by the education think tank EdBuild, the district border that Bradley navigates as a parent and an activist (she helped launch Enroll Detroit, which distributes information about school enrollment requirements to families) is the most income-segregating in the nation. The median property value in DPS is $45,100, versus $220,100 in suburban Grosse Pointe, and roughly half of the city student population lives in poverty, compared to one out of every 15 students across the district line—a difference of 42 percentage points. Local per-pupil public revenue is about the same, at around $4,650 per student, but that’s because Detroit now taxes properties at a rate of 8.7 percent each year to pay for its schools. This is 47 percent higher than the rate paid in Grosse Pointe, “where, it goes without saying, there are most likely no vermin carcasses under the desks,” says Rebecca Sibilia, the founder and CEO of EdBuild, in an email to CityLab.

“EdBuild’s report ranked the country’s top 50 segregating school-district borders. More than 60 percent of these borders are in Rust Belt cities in upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, eastern Wisconsin, and Illinois, which have suffered from patterns of disinvestment similar to those in Detroit. As the city underwent decades of depopulation, hundreds of Detroit’s public schools closed, leaving properties abandoned and blighted. DPS now struggles with a budget deficit of nearly $300 million, along with frequent teacher shortages and staff walk-outs. Research shows that students coming from profound disadvantage need even more resources from schools than their wealthier peers to achieve equal outcomes—yet DPS cannot meet those needs, even with additional state funding.”