We know the narrative on white flight: Coasting on federal perks like home loans from the Veterans Administration, G.I. bill grants, and heavy subsidization for highways, white families fled northern industrial cities like gangbusters in the 1960s. Whether this was because of financial incentives, or because they were running from court-sanctioned desegregation, the outcome was abandoned communities with devastated city tax bases.
The highest costs of white flight, however, were born by the children left behind in even more segregated, and now almost entirely poor neighborhood schools. Decades of research shows that this resulting racial and economic isolation created toxic, severely under-resourced learning environments for black and brown students, from Detroit to Philadelphia to New York City.
That white and middle-class outflow has reversed, though, in recent years in locales across the country, with many residents returning to the cities their parents had left behind. Gentrification has led to much hand-wringing among policy makers, hipsters, and long-time urban residents who whipsaw between fears of displacement and the desire for neighborhood improvements th... Read more