As Sun Prairie redraws school boundaries, UW–Madison’s Stern warns of potential unintended consequences

The Wisconsin State Journal utilized the expertise of UW–Madison’s Walter Stern recently in an article focused on work taking place in the Sun Prairie Area School District to redraw its middle and high school boundary lines with an eye toward creating racial and economic balance.

Walter Stern

Stern is an assistant professor in the School of Education’s Department of Educational Policy Studies, and in the Department of History.

A new, second high school is scheduled to open in Sun Prairie in fall 2022, which will require the district to have new boundary lines in place.

Stern acknowledged that while “some research has found diverse schools to be academically beneficial,” he also warned of potential negative unintended consequences to past desegregation efforts, “such as poorer students and students of color having to travel long distances to desegregated schools outside of their neighborhoods — schools that can have few nonwhite staff.”

“Research shows that the impacts of desegregation are complex and often contradictory,” he said. “The fact that communities of color have often had limited power over educational policies that are implemented in the name of educational equity has been a significant factor in these outcomes.”

Read the full article on, here.