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PRRAC update February 3, 2011

Welcome to the PRRAC Update! Every other Thursday, PRRAC sends out a brief digest of news, recent publications, and other points of interest related to our work in housing, education, and health. We welcome feedback and encourage you to forward to others. To join the PRRAC email list, click here.

Inclusive Gentrification?

The influx of higher income newcomers into a low income community often leads to displacement of existing residents, with potential negative consequences for residents' health, children's education, and community social and cultural networks. But there are also potential benefits to existing residents in the early stages of gentrification, in terms of increased neighborhood services, improved law enforcement presence, added political strength, expanded educational resources, etc. Is it possible to capture some of the "benefits" of gentrification for existing families without the inexorable displacement and social exclusion that market change can bring? Where has the process of gentrification "worked" for existing residents, and can we replicate any of these approaches to promote racially and economically diverse urban communities? These are some of the questions that PRRAC is exploring in a yearlong project - and we hope to draw from some of your experiences in the field. If you are familiar with a community that has successfully managed gentrification for the benefit of existing low income residents - or if you know of places that have tried and failed - please let us know ( and look out for future updates on this project over the next several months.

EPA School Siting Guidelines

In another example of the limitations of narrowly framed "smart growth" principles in federal school and housing policy, the EPA has issued guidelines on K-12 school siting that disregard the recommendation of its own school siting advisory committee to avoid siting schools in toxic "exclusion zones" that might threaten childrens' health, instead recommending siting principles that favor school development in the most highly congested areas, and in areas that will minimize the possibility of racially and economically diverse schools. See our pending comment letter.

The Plight of One Ohio Mother Reflects the Frustrations of Many Parents

The recent conviction of an Ohio mother who tried to register her children in her father's school district has reignited a national discussion about the unfairness of artificial school district lines that separate low income children of color from high quality public education (listen to the NPR story). The National Coalition on School Diversity has urged Congress to authorize interdistrict transfers for children attending failing schools, in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (formerly known as "No Child Left Behind") - see the coalition's ESEA policy brief, and feel free to contact your Congressperson if she or he is on one of the Education Committees.

Sotomayor discusses the 2007 "Parents Involved" decision

Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor wasn't shy about sharing her opinion on high court's approach to public school integration efforts when she spoke recently to a group of law students at the University of Chicago. Justice Sotomayor referred to the Chief Justice's approach (which would virtually prohibit the promotion of racial diversity in public schools if ever adopted by a majority of the Court) - as "too simple." "I don't borrow Chief Justice Roberts's description of what colorblindness is," she said. "Our society is too complex to use that kind of analysis." See a link to the full story here.

Latest issue of Poverty & Race

The current issue of Poverty & Race covers the U.N.'s "International Year for People of African Descent" and other stories - click here to read an online version - and remember to keep sending us your latest work for inclusion in our resources section!

Philip Tegeler

Saba Bireda

Poverty & Race Research Action Council

Washington, DC

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