School boundaries and their roots in racist 1930s redlining

Our research has uncovered an alarming and shameful reality about our public education system:

Today’s school boundaries, which assign the majority of American students to their public schools, carry forward the legacy of the racist redlining policies of the 1930s.

Look at the attendance zone maps for coveted public elementary schools. We’ve found that they often mirror the patterns of the racist redlining maps from over 80 years ago.  And their  impact is painfully similar too. 

Decades ago, the federal  government drew maps of American cities that discriminated against neighborhoods with ethnic minorities and immigrants, denying them access to federal housing assistance and mortgages . Today, similar maps are used to deny low-income kids the opportunity to enroll in coveted public schools.  We call it educational redlining. 

These outdated and discriminatory maps are perpetuating and deepening class and racial divides.  We won’t have equality of opportunity for all students until these exclusionary maps are gone. 

Do you see your city below? 




Los Angeles

Los Angeles



For more information, read this rigorous report by the Urban Institute: Dividing Lines: Racially Unequal School Boundaries in US Public School Systems