Thursday, October 30, 2008

Race and the School Levy

Race is the topic that Daytonians are too polite to talk about. Since yer humble host isn't a Daytonian, this blog will touch that local third rail

Lets look at the 2007 levy results by precinct, from this excellent map by the Dayton Daily News (lets hope the DDN continues to provide equally good, detailed cartography for the upcoming election):

One notes a clear division between east and west side, with clusters of the most intense votes being no-votes in Old North Dayton, Southeast, and east Dayton east of Tals Corner. There is a also a cluster of no vote precincts in Harrison Twp, north of the city.

The yes votes didn't rise to the intensity of the no votes, except in a scattering of precincts, (three of those had housing projects at the time).

The map tracks nicely with this 2000 census map of block groups, showing % black block groups.

The whitest areas voted most intensly against the levy.

Some statistical ground truth:

38% = School age white population (5 thru 17)(2000 Census)

24% = % of DPS students who are white (latest ODE school report card)

This gives you an order of magnitude. Note that DPS includes Harrison Township, which might dilute the white %.

60% = % of voting age population (18 and up) who are white (2000 Census).

Now things have changed since 2000 and Dayton may have become less white, but its interesting that the demographics favor white voters, if they vote on racial lines. This also assumes that white registration and election participation reflects the voting age population, which may not be the case.

DPS is a predominently minority district, and whites appear to participate in it as a lower rate than their % of the school-age population. So perhaps the perception is that it's not their school system, and the vote on racial lines against being taxed to support a system their kids don't attend, or if they do, are themselves minorities.

Then there is the issue of discipline. I blogged on how Dayton has very low discipline rates compared to other urban districts. And there was anecdotal evidence from various DDN comments strings that there is lax enforcement in some cases where white students are bullied by blacks. Again, this is just anecdotal. Yet heresay can also influence perceptions, and perception is reality when it comes to lax discipline irrespective of race, based on the statistics.

So whites had a lot of rationalizations to vote against the 2007 levy (including that it was so high vis a vis the relatively low incomes of city residents).

What Will Happen With the 2008 Levy?

The current levy is less than what was requested in 2007, so there will automatically be less resistance for all homeowners to vote their pocketbook. And one can anticipate record voter turnout from the black community due to the Presidential race, which might have a coattail effect for things down-ticket. If so the big voter turnout and reasonable millage could trump a racially motivated no-vote from the whites.

But it will be interesting to see the geography of the vote, no matter the outcome.


kevin said...

Do you have a chart that shows homeowner verses renter/lease of Dayton?

Jefferey said...

No, but that info can be derived from the census for 2000. It might be just at the tract level.

Matthew Sauer said...

Two other possible factors - greater numbers of Catholics in East Dayton (and thus parochial-schooled kids), and an older, fixed-income population that's traditionally hostile to levies. Just speculation...

Anonymous said...

To be totally honest with ya. Do we really want to waste money on a failing school system where kids refuse to learn and single moms don't care?

Come on, be honest about it.