Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Inequality in Mass Suburbia

The chapter that most interested me in this week's reading was Chapter 5, Residence: Inequality in Mass Suburbia. Cohen gave a very detailed description of how the rise of suburbia inherently created inequalities in access to better housing and schools. My grandparents raised my mom and uncle in this sort of suburbia in Omaha. My grandpa had a corporate job in the city and they bought a large split-level home on 132nd and Center, which in the early 1960s, was the outskirts of Omaha. Cohen talks a lot about how people in suburbia were concerned with their property values and this fit my grandparent's description perfectly. Even to this day they are overwhelmed with concern over their property value. Every time someone moves into neighborhood, they talk about what it will mean to the quality of their neighborhood.

Another thing I was interested to learn was the inequality in education that arose in the 1950s. Communities today are still struggling with the problems suburbia created during this time. One example, is the proposal of the "Learning Community" in Omaha. As the years go by, the rich have gotten richer in West Omaha, and the poor have gotten poorer towards the city center. Of course this creates disparities in education funding and Omaha's best solution to this problem was to integrate the funding and allow children from the "inner city" to attend better schools out west if they wanted. West Omahans, however, didn't want their tax dollars going to schools other than those in their district. After all, they moved to these districts for their good school systems and they wanted to protect their investments.

So, my question is, could this inequality have been avoided? Was it inevitable this would happen during a population boom?

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