Contact:         Serena Larkin, [email protected], 206-447-1880 x111

Seattle Children Zoned Out of High-Quality Classrooms

Loosening single-family zoning restrictions could help dismantle structural school segregation across the city.

Single-family zoning rules in Seattle restrict fully 72 percent of land in the attendance areas of the city’s 13 top-rated, non-option, public elementary schools. That’s according to new research from Sightline Institute, showing how prohibiting less expensive housing options like duplexes, triplexes, and backyard cottages in these communities effectively bars children from poorer families from being able to access the opportunities and resources of those top schools.

Sightline also found that:

  • Home values in the neighborhoods surrounding these schools were 20 percent higher than the Seattle average.
  • Household income in these neighborhoods was nearly 25 percent more that the Seattle average.
  • Children attending these top schools are overwhelmingly white, non-poor, and fluent in English, compared with students across all of Seattle elementary schools.

“The quality of the school a child attends shouldn’t depend on where her family can afford to live,” says article author and Sightline senior researcher Margaret Morales. “In a city like Seattle, where we are actively seeking means to combat rising inequality, this is one tool we know can work: we need to zone kids into, not out of our classrooms.”

Find the full article at



Sightline Institute is a think tank providing leading original analysis of energy, economic, and environmental policy in the Pacific Northwest.

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May 19, 2017