I saw a local high school's spring musical this weekend. The production was well done and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I was struck, however, by the extreme whiteness of the cast. I teach in an elementary school that is 15% white. I looked up the high school and it is 61% white. That doesn't seem so overwhelming, but in our area that is significant. This would have been simply an interesting observation except for a discussion I had later that afternoon.
Speaking with colleagues of my husband (college professors) about an acquaintance who is looking to relocate in the area, they said they had recommended this high school to him. I mentioned my experience and observation about the racial demographics. They seemed quite surprised by it. I was left with the sense that these individuals did not believe that the demographics played any role in the school's reputation, something which seems like an obvious factor to me. I agree that this high school is well respected, but I believe that its population is a part of that. Fewer than 10% of students there receive free or reduced lunches (for our school district almost 20% do). Almost 60% of students at my elementary school do. The high school we feed to is not as well respected, even though they had a principal for years who was award-winning and very highly thought of. Race and socio-economic levels are a large part of what determines a child's fate - in school and out.