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A Fine Line


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A well-documented expose on a critical but little-known problem in the American education system.

               In 1954 the landmark Supreme Court ruling known as Brown v. Board of Education promised equal education for all Americans. Over 66 years later that promise seems, as they say, more honored in the breach than in the observance.

               In this well researched book Tim De Roche exposes how so-called “Attendance Zones” work to segregate poor and minorities from the best schools in a district. Attendance Zones are reminiscent of Red Lining which was used in the Real Estate industry to segregate neighborhoods in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s.

               Though Redlining is now illegal, the designation of Attendance Zones has practically the same effect: depressing home values in some neighborhoods while inflating them in others.

               Using diagrams and maps of places as disparate as Los Angeles, CA and  Fort Lauderdale, FL, De Roche illustrates how something as simple as living on the wrong side of a street can relegate children to a failing neighborhood school and a reduced chance of success, even though a better school may be closer to their home.

               Since their children’s education is a high priority for most parents, many take extreme measures to ensure their children’s future. Along with the “normal” pathways of private schooling, charter schools and magnet schools, families often move into Attendance Zones surrounding high performing schools and pay a premium for their housing in order to improve their kids’ lot. Other parents lie about their addresses and risk prosecution. The fact that parents can face criminal prosecution for sending their children to the “wrong” school in the same district in which they live points out the absurdity of the problem.

               In the final section of the book De Roche looks at solutions including a survey of legal cases that attempted to address the issue and a proposal for how to use the courts to end the practice overall.

               This book exposes a problem in our education system that is too often swept under the rug. It should be a useful aid to people concerned with changing our education system whether at the local school board or in the halls of congress.


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I am a writer and educator publishing fiction, essays, reviews and poetry. I write reviews for Wendy Welch's little bookstore at Big Stone gap blog. I am a writing teacher and workshop facilitator, and have published fiction, essays, reviews, poems and photographs.

The Two Sides of North Avenue

About the author

TIM DeROCHE is a consultant and writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for Education Week, the LA Business Journal, and the Washington Post. His first book The Ballad of Huck & Miguel—a retelling of Huck Finn set on the LA River—was an Amazon bestseller and was featured on CBS Sunday Morning. view profile

Published on May 17, 2020

Published by Redtail Press

60000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Political Science & Current Affairs

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