Housing Identity Privilege and Our Public Schools

According to the recent report “Brown v. Board of Education at 60,” schools across the United States have become resegregated since the civil rights era with more than 40% of Black and Latino students attending schools whose populations are 90% to 100% minority (Orfield, Kucsera, & Siegel-Hawley, 2012). Authors Gooden and Thompson Dorsey explore this report and how the concept of housing identity privilege weakens our ability to address school segregation. They argue “that despite some progress, schools are essentially still segregated by race and class, and housing identity privilege has worked against the original goals of Brown” (Gooden & Thompson Dorsey, p.764, 2014). According to their article, schools will not desegregate until these housing identity privileges are addressed.

What does the report say?

  • There has been a 30% decrease in White students attending public schools.
  • Black and Latino students often attend the lowest performing schools .
  • White and Asian students are more likely to attend middle-class schools.

What is housing identity privilege?

  • Housing identity privilege is “a historically supported system of advantages in America that is based on how much house one can afford, and it is correlated directly with the degree of educational choices one can afford”(Gooden & Thompson Dorsey, 2014, p. 771)
  • Housing identity privilege is a result of segregation policies, such as federal home ownership policies, and private discrimination and provides unearned advantages from society for living within a certain area.
  • The research states that: “Segregated neighborhoods often mean stratified school districts in which the schools located in low-income, high-racial minority neighborhoods are besieged by high student poverty, high student turn-over, less experienced and noncredentialed teacehrs, limited resources, overcrowded and unruly classrooms, and below-par achievement levels” (Gooden & Thomson Dorsey, 2014, p.772).


There is a significant difference in the terms integration and desegregation in both school and legal literature. Desegregation refers to the fact that public schools cannot legally assign students to schools based on race. Integration is the process of unifying groups as equal members of society. The courts have ruled that desegregation must be enforced within public schools; however, there is no way to legally enforce integration because individual housing preferences are constitutional. Because most school systems base their assignment policies around vicinity of the school and neighborhoods tend to be segregated, schools then are also segregated. Until there is a societal shift in thinking about housing, lending, and neighborhoods, our schools will remain segregated and many of our poor and minority students will continue to receive a separate and unequal education.

Gooden, M. & Thompson Dorsey, D. N. (2014). The distorted looking glass: Examining how housing privilege obviates the goals of Brown v. Board of Education at 60.Educational Administration Quarterly50764782.