'Loving Cities Index' finds disparities in support for student success

'Loving Cities Index' finds disparities in support for student success

Major U.S. cities with large numbers of low-income children and children of color are failing to provide the supports needed for all students to be able to learn, a report from the Schott Foundation for Public Education finds.

Based on the Loving Cities Index, the report, 2020 Loving Cities Index: Creating loving systems across communities to provide all students an opportunity to thrive (106 pages, PDF), provides a comprehensive look at systemic racism in the areas of education, health, and economic opportunity based on twenty-five indicators in four categories: care (access to mental and physical health services, nutritional food, and parks), stability (voter turnout, access to public transportation, affordable housing, and living wages), commitment (access to early childhood education, anti-bullying policies, and rates of school suspensions and referrals to law enforcement), and capacity (access to advanced curricula, school economic integration, and adequate teacher experience and salaries).

The 2020 index profiles ten cities with large numbers of low-income students and students of color: Albuquerque, Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Hartford (CT), Jackson (MS), Miami, Oakland, Providence (RI), and St. Paul. Only Providence provided more than 50 percent of the measured supports, which may be a factor in the relatively narrow racial/ethnic disparities in the city's high school graduation rates. By highlighting how access to healthy food, affordable housing, and public transportation support student success, the report provides a framework for local leaders looking to dismantle and replace inequitable systems with policies that support people from birth and provide them with opportunities to learn and thrive. 

"We, as a society, must not tolerate these immoral systems of structural and preventable disadvantage any longer," writes Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times Magazine contributor Nikole Hannah-Jones in the report's foreword. "This moment of unprecedented protest and unprecedented national pain must lead to transformation of all the systems of inequities that we have too long tolerated. The racial and social economic inequality in this country was intentionally created. We put an inordinate amount of societal resources and money into creating it. That is disheartening but also reveals an important truth: That which has been created can be un-created. If you built it, you can tear it down and build something new." 

"After decades of education reform, parental income remains the top predictor of student outcomes. This report challenges the notion that school-based reforms alone can provide students a fair and substantive opportunity to learn," said Schott Foundation president and CEO John H. Jackson. "If these lives matter, addressing these systemic gaps must matter. We must pivot to a comprehensive, cross-sector, collaborative approach that shows love and not disregard for our nation's children."