By Cydney Wilson
William Allen High School, once known as Allentown High School, has changed drastically over the past few decades. It has become increasingly diverse and less financially capable, leading to a lack of resources and low graduation rates. This can largely be attributed to the practice of redlining.
According to the Fair Housing Act, redlining is the act of denying someone a loan based on oftentimes discriminatory factors—such as race or ethnicity—when the applicant is eligible for a loan. Redlining is most commonly affiliated with mortgage lending practices.
“A large part of the ASD and different school district funding is property taxes,” explains James Wynne, a 2019 graduate of William Allen High School and current Muhlenberg student. “If you look at the school district boundaries, other districts in the county, they’re squares, they’re rectangles. At ASD, it looks like something you’d see in biology class. It’s ridiculous. And most of that are dilapidated communities with houses and buildings with low property value. And so if you just think about it mathematically, lower quality housing, you’re going to have lower property taxes.”
According to Wilberto Sicard’s research, there is a 69.1% graduation rate from William Allen and a 49.2% post-secondary education rate, while Parkland has a 95.4% graduation rate and an 81.9% post-secondary rate.
Wynne also shared his experience of the ways in which the gentrification of downtown Allentown has led to redlining.
“There are new businesses like [tax company] ADP [Automatic Data Processing]… They have a building downtown and there’s been this surge of apartments, very upscale apartment complexes that house all these people who are working in these new businesses and corporations that are finding homes in downtown Allentown… The community that I was a part of is sort of becoming smaller and smaller culturally and physically.”