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ERIC Number: ED547288
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-May
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Is Montgomery County's Housing Policy One Answer to Baltimore's Education Achievement Gap? The Abell Report. Volume 24, No.3
Schwartz, Heather L.
Abell Foundation
In 1966, the Coleman Report firmly established the link between a family's socioeconomic status and a child's educational outcomes. Known as the "income achievement gap," the disparity between the achievement of poor and rich children has become entrenched in our nation's educational landscape: with few exceptions, schools with high concentrations of students from low-income families perform far worse than schools with lower concentrations of poverty. Some 45 years after the report's release, debate continues about how to positively impact the achievement of economically impoverished children. Education and housing are two primary means in U.S. public policy to promote social mobility. Fifty miles to the south of Baltimore City, Montgomery County operates two policies that aim to close the income achievement gap. One is a more traditional school-only reform that invests extra resources and funding in its neediest elementary schools, or "red zone" schools. The other illustrates the power of housing and schools to improve the outcomes of disadvantaged students: It is a novel housing policy that provides robust economic integration to reduce the negative effects of poverty on children through combined housing, neighborhood, and school influences. To analyze the effectiveness of the schools-only versus the combined approach of investment in both housing and schools, author Heather Schwartz's study, "Housing Policy is School Policy: Economically Integrative Housing Promotes Academic Success in Montgomery County Maryland" (The Century Foundation, 2010) compared two groups of children who lived in public housing. The study finds that those students who were integrated into low-poverty schools (through the placement of their families' housing assignment into a low-poverty neighborhood) far outperformed those who attended the higher-poverty but higher-resourced "red zone" schools. Importantly, those highly disadvantaged children who had access to the district's lowest-poverty schools began to catch up to their more-affluent, high- performing peers, cutting in half the income achievement gap by the end of elementary school. Children in low-income households derive substantial benefits from living in low-poverty neighborhoods and attending low-poverty schools. In this issue of "The Abell Report" Schwartz describes three historical features that make Montgomery County an ideal location to study whether low-income children do indeed benefit from attending low-poverty schools. She goes on to discuss how Montgomery County's Inclusionary Zoning policy is unique and how it benefits low-income families. Then, she discusses the impact that economically integrative housing has on education in Montgomery County and compares its impact to Montgomery County's "red zone" educational initiative. Schwartz concludes that the Montgomery County example is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every jurisdiction but does offer regional lessons for Baltimore about housing mobility, and underscores the importance to the entire community of economic integration. A second article offers a salute from the Abell Foundation to Mark Marino, Executive Director of Health Leads Baltimore, all of Health Leads Baltimore staff, and the local college students who, through the Health Leads initiative, are helping the Baltimore community by redefining traditional social services to provide practical guidance to the varying and disparate (non-medical) needs of patients.
Abell Foundation. 111 South Calvert Street Suite 2300, Baltimore, MD 21202. Tel: 410-545-1300; Fax: 410-539-6579; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Collected Works - Serial; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Abell Foundation
Identifiers - Location: Maryland