In response to the city of Richmond’s school rezoning efforts, researchers from the University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University and the Virginia Housing Alliance have released a report that addresses the recent Richmond School Board rezoning efforts.

The report, Creating More Integrated Schools in a Segregated System: A Window of Opportunity, was co-authored by Tom Shields, SPCS associate dean and associate professor of education and leadership studies; Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, associate professor of educational leadership in the VCU School of Education; Kimberly Bridges, assistant professor of educational leadership in the VCU School of Education; and Brian Koziol, executive director of the Virginia Housing Alliance.

The report focuses on changes in racial demographics occurring in the city of Richmond. While the past decade has brought an influx of young, white professionals and families that have fueled population growth, these increases have only slowly translated into increased enrollment of white students in Richmond Public Schools (RPS).

These shifts have come on the heels of decades of intentional division of, and disinvestment in, majority black urban communities, offering renewed opportunities for neighborhood and school integration, along with a stronger tax base and increases in school funding.

The report highlights the challenges and opportunities that changing demographics bring to the school system.

The report offers important context and content to inform policy decisions that leverage the city’s growing diversity for increased equity and inclusion. It shares research on the benefits of diverse schools, the current state of integration and relevant historical background influencing the need for action, comparable contemporary experiences, and common voluntary integration methods.

The report makes three recommendations to school leaders related to integration and diversity in Richmond schools:

  • Enroll as many students as possible in more diverse schools.
  • Consider using multiple voluntary integration strategies if/when the combination can increase the likelihood of achieving that goal.
  • Reduce, wherever possible, high concentrations of poverty as well as stark concentrations of white, affluent students.

Additionally, the report offers several recommendations to stakeholders involved in implementing new
voluntary integration policies:

  • Build on the knowledge and experience of school districts relying on similar strategies.
  • Leverage partnerships with nonprofit, higher education, and philanthropic organizations.
  • Form a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Schools committee to position the district for short-term success and more long-term, holistic voluntary integration efforts.
  • Ensure accountability with regular and required public reporting on diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Regularly convene with housing policymakers to develop a coordinated strategy for sustained integration.

The report was released on October 7. It is available for download online in the University of Richmond Scholarship Repository.

Related Campus Units

Education Department

Associate Dean, Academic & Student Affairs
Associate Professor, Education
Program Chair, Graduate Education
Associate Professor, Leadership Studies
School Liaison, AFAC
Member, SPCS Speakers Bureau
Educational Leadership
School & Housing Segregation
Changing Demographics in RVA
Ethics & Leadership