How Mixed Neighborhoods Could Save America’s Schools

In a former Atlanta slum, now East Lake Meadows, low- and middle-income families now live side by side — and send their children to the same excellent school. Is this surprising model too good to be true? Unlike most charters in urban areas, Drew Charter is not all black or Hispanic, nor is it all poor. It is, instead, a demonstration of a novel concept in the modern education reform movement: trying to close the achievement gap between the poor and affluent by bringing them together to share their neighborhoods and their classrooms. The Charles Drew Charter School has been combined with federally subsidized housing for impoverished tenants with market-rate apartments that attract university students — some from nearby Georgia State in downtown Atlanta — young professionals and, increasingly, middle-class families. The transformation has been, for the most part, a great success. Crime rates, which were sky high during the 1990s, have plummeted. The average income of subsidized tenants is still well below the federal poverty line, but it rose from about $4,500 in the mid-nineties to nearly $16,000 a decade later. And, as measured by state test scores, Drew Charter School has jumped from the worst in the city to the fourth best.

The Atlantic


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