SD Research Roundup: Housing Studies, Privatization, & Multicultural Picture Books

The SD Notebook is easing back into the new year with a very quick post that highlights a variety of good and important studies from the end of 2018. I mainly just didn’t want these pieces to get lost amidst all the activity of the holidays, end of semester etc. As always, I hope you find something useful! And, please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

Divergent Trends in Neighborhood and School Segregation in the Age of School Choice by Ryan Coughlan and published in the Peabody Journal of Education

This study looked at demographic data in neighborhoods and related school districts for the 100 most populous US cities and found that:

an overwhelming majority of cities have experienced increases in neighborhood-level integration while a large majority of schools in their accompanying districts have become increasingly segregated.

It is often argued that schools are segregated largely because neighborhoods are segregated. However, this large-scale research project is yet another recent piece arguing that the relationship is not quite so simple, and its findings are unique in noting that while neighborhoods have actually become more integrated, schools have moved in the opposite direction. For those who want to read more, Matt Barnum has an excellent summary at Chalkbeat, and I also recommend this Have you Heard podcast episode with Carla Shedd who talks about the increase in a la carte living, or when people of privilege move into minoritized communities, but use choice and other means to send their children to other schools.

Coordination of Community Systems and Institutions to Promote Housing and School Integration by Phil Tegeler and Micah Herskind and published by the Poverty and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC)

Like the previous article, this research brief from PRRAC notes the complicated relationship between housing and school segregation. It highlights “innovative programs across the United States that consider school and housing segregation in tandem,” including examples from Richmond, VA; Nashville, TN; and Baltimore, MD among many others. It uses case studies from each city to discuss how consideration of housing alongside school segregation can address issues common to urban areas, such as: maintaining school diversity amidst community gentrification, addressing transportation barriers to integration, and finding housing solutions for teachers in segregated school districts.

Attrition and Dropout Rates in Texas published by the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA)

This is part of a series on attrition rates that is published each fall/winter by the IDRA. Among some startling findings:

  • “Texas is failing to graduate one out of every five students – which translates to losing 11 students per hour.”
  • “Black students and Hispanic students are about two times more likely to leave school without graduating with a diploma than White students.”

How school privatization opens the door for discrimination by Julie Mead and Suzanne Eckes and published by the National Education Policy Center

In this brief, legal scholars review educational laws on voucher and charter school programs to understand, as the title states, exactly how these programs allow schools to discriminate against certain groups of students. Specifically, they highlight three common problems:

  • “Federal law defines discrimination differently in public and private spaces.”
  • “State legislatures have largely neglected issues of discrimination while constructing voucher laws; charter laws are better, but they fail to comprehensively address these issues.”
  • “Because private and charter schools are free to determine what programs to offer, they can attract some populations while excluding others.”

Steve Hinnefeld has a great summary over at IN School Matters, where he also illustrates how discrimination via vouchers plays out in his home state of Indiana, which famously has a massive voucher program that cost the state more than $150 mil last year and largely functioned as a subsidy for religious education.   

Using Multicultural Picture Books to Promote Racial Justice in Urban Early Childhood Literacy Classrooms by Terry Husband in Urban Education

At the Center for Education and Civil Rights, we have been working closely with pre-school teachers on anti-bias education, and, as a father of a 2 yo, I think about this almost constantly.

In this article, Terry Husband discusses “reasons why early childhood teachers should abandon colorblind approaches to race and racism in their classrooms” and provides “a framework of multiple approaches to teaching children about race through multicultural picture books.” Often in our research, we find that early childhood educators would like to talk about racial justice in race-conscious ways, but many are understandably unsure about how to have these conversations with such young children. So, it’s great to see more research that has practical considerations that can potentially help folks navigate these challenges.

And, there were also great pieces recently on the relationship between school choice and school integration, links here and here. I’ll be back soon with a longer look at each.

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