What Happened When Denver Prioritized Enrolling Low-income Students At Some Affluent Schools
Two years ago, Denver Public Schools approached its most affluent schools with an idea: What if, after enrolling all of the students who lived in their school boundaries, they prioritized filling their remaining open seats with low-income students from other neighborhoods?
The goal was to increase socioeconomic integration in a gentrifying city where housing patterns have exacerbated a familiar problem: At some schools, very few students qualify for subsidized lunches. At other schools, nearly all do. And there aren’t enough schools in between, even though some research shows all students benefit when schools are integrated.
Six elementary schools with poverty rates far below the district average signed on to the idea. They were joined last year by Denver’s largest and most sought-after high school, East High, where hundreds of kids compete each year for freshman spots.