Real estate industry professionals are aware that presence of good schools equal above average housing values. A number of studies have confirmed it. The median premium on the asking price may even reach $50 per square foot. Indeed, the town supervisor in Chappaqua, New York acknowledged schools as the area's principal keeper of property values.
Fair housing advocates have a problem with this close link between real estate and school ratings. They believe that the issue of race binds the two. The argument that this particular problem has only deepened with the last 10 years with new communication technologies providing all varieties of information to homebuyers. Sally Santangelo of Central New York Fair Housing said that school rating map is a mirror of racial dot map. Her group offers legal and educational assistance so that housing discrimination is eradicated. There are also a number of complicated questions concerning how factors like school ratings and test scores are utilized to influence the home buying decisions.
It is well documented that there exists a large gap in the test scores among Hispanic and black students with their Asian and white peers. A number of reasons can be attributed to such differences. These include disparities in wealth and income, disciplinary policies which expels black students from the school system, early learning gap that exists between children coming from low and high income families, and also less experienced teachers. The problem is that these all boils down to a single number: the rating of that school.
According to Genevieve Siegel-Hawley of Virginia Commonwealth University, schools which have greater number of black students get a negative rating due to low test scores. She goes further on to add that poor test scores can be explained by poverty level suffered by the family of the student.
Ratings of schools and patterns in housing feed on one another. Local property taxes have a connection with school budgets. Premium rated schools generated higher housing values. The latter, in turn, generated schools rich in resources. For realtors, this can turn out to be a tricky situation. The law forbids the discussion of racial composition in any neighborhood. Steps should not be taken to perpetuate discrimination or maintain segregation. A number of real estate agents have told white buyers not to buy properties in certain areas due to poor quality of the schools present in that particular area. It is clear that schools are like a proxy for the ethnic or racial composition of the neighborhoods.