A new study shows that housing and educational segregation and race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status are closely connected. The report details the changing nature of segregation in the metro-Richmond area, which is more multiracial than it was in the past, and seeks to offer a range of possible public policy solutions to promote equitable access to high opportunity schools and neighborhoods.

“Confronting School and Housing Segregation in the Richmond Region: Can We Learn and Live Together?” is a two-year project completed through a partnership between the University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University and Housing Opportunities Made Equal. The report is being shared with housing and education authorities across Central Virginia with the goal of influencing positive change. 

“Our number one focus is to help people learn to talk about and then address opportunities related to the role of diversity in the public school system,” said Tom Shields, the chair of graduate education in the University of Richmond’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies and one of the report’s authors. “Our local leaders should understand that racial, ethnic and income diversity in schools and in housing is beneficial. We should not be throwing up barriers or walls, but creating measures to ensure our schools and housing are as integrated as possible.”

Shields hopes the report will draw attention to the rising disparities in the Richmond region and the increasingly persistent and detrimental impact of segregation in housing and K-12 education.

One suggestion stemming from this study is the need to have diversity accountability measures in schools. These measures would understand that diverse schools, classrooms and extra-curricular activities enhance a child’s opportunities in a diverse nation. Shields says corporations have begun to do this because they understand that diverse teams out perform more homogenous teams.

“This topic should be of importance to everyone,” Shields says. “Our nation is more diverse, and we can no longer afford to have children who are not prepared to navigate those differences.”

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“Confronting School and Housing Segregation in the Richmond Region: Can We Learn and Live Together?” is available for download via the University of Richmond Scholarship Repository.

Important to Everyone

“This topic should be of importance to everyone. Our nation is more diverse, and we can no longer afford to have children who are not prepared to navigate those differences.”

-Tom Shields, chair of graduate education in the University of Richmond’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies

Program Chair, Graduate Education
Associate Professor, Education
Director, Center for Leadership in Education
Educational leadership
School leadership