Access and Equity in Education: Zip Codes Tell Us A Lot About Public School Quality

by T. Walker

In the old saw about real estate, the three most important factors are location, location, location. The same is true of our nation’s public schools. A location that is desirable usually has good public schools because good schools attract families and businesses, which drive up real estate prices. In turn, high-priced real estate increases property taxes, which help fund public schools, which attract more affluent families. And so on.

Location matters for schools in rural areas, where family farms are fading into history, as well as for segregated and impoverished inner-city neighborhoods where many businesses have shut down and middle-class families have moved away.

When it comes to location, a ZIP code—a mere five digits—can frequently describe the quality of the education that public school students receive and sometimes even the direction their lives will take. During this school year, NEA Today will be visiting Zip codes across the nation to examine the significance of location on public education. Here’s part one of the series:
What’s Her Number? Zip Codes Tell Us A Lot About Public School Quality