How a ‘parenting arms race’ is causing kids to grow up segregated

Wealthier families are flocking to areas with better schools and educational services. The result is less diversity in a growing number of neighborhoods in the nation’s largest cities.

Published April 27, 2016

Sandie Villanueva could have lived a very different life.

Growing up in Rampart, a historically high-crime district west of downtown, she wasn’t sure college was part of her plans. Her parents hadn’t gone, after all. But when a middle school teacher urged her to attend a magnet high school in the San Fernando Valley, Ms. Villanueva – with her parents’ support – jumped at the chance.

The decision, she says, was among the best she has ever made. The students at John H. Francis Polytechnic High School were mostly middle class, and almost all were on track for college.

“I was in an environment where every student was focused,” says Villanueva, who became the first member of her family to earn a bachelor’s degree and now works as a development associate at a local nonprofit. She plans to enter law school in the next few years. “I think my life trajectory would have been really different if I’d gone to school in my neighborhood,” she says.

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