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Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools

Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools

Annette Lareau
Kimberly Goyette
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools
    Book Description:

    A series of policy shifts over the past decade promises to change how Americans decide where to send their children to school. In theory, the boom in standardized test scores and charter schools will allow parents to evaluate their assigned neighborhood school, or move in search of a better option. But what kind of data do parents actually use while choosing schools? Are there differences among suburban and urban families? How do parents’ choices influence school and residential segregation in America? Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools presents a breakthrough analysis of the new era of school choice, and what it portends for American neighborhoods. The distinguished contributors to Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools investigate the complex relationship between education, neighborhood social networks, and larger patterns of inequality. Paul Jargowsky reviews recent trends in segregation by race and class. His analysis shows that segregation between blacks and whites has declined since 1970, but remains extremely high. Moreover, white families with children are less likely than childless whites to live in neighborhoods with more minority residents. In her chapter, Annette Lareau draws on interviews with parents in three suburban neighborhoods to analyze school-choice decisions. Surprisingly, she finds that middle- and upper-class parents do not rely on active research, such as school tours or test scores. Instead, most simply trust advice from friends and other people in their network. Their decision-making process was largely informal and passive. Eliot Weinginer complements this research when he draws from his data on urban parents. He finds that these families worry endlessly about the selection of a school, and that parents of all backgrounds actively consider alternatives, including charter schools. Middle- and upper-class parents relied more on federally mandated report cards, district websites, and online forums, while working-class parents use network contacts to gain information on school quality. Little previous research has explored what role school concerns play in the preferences of white and minority parents for particular neighborhoods. Featuring innovative work from more than a dozen scholars, Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools adroitly addresses this gap and provides a firmer understanding of how Americans choose where to live and send their children to school.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-820-8
    Subjects: Sociology, Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. About the Authors
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xxiv)
    Kimberly Goyette and Annette Lareau
  6. Chapter 1 Setting the Context
    (pp. 1-24)
    Kimberly Goyette

    To place the chapters in this book in conversation with research done thus far, in this introduction I discuss four bodies of work that have mostly been done separately, often without a more thorough exploration of their connections. The first literature is on residential segregation, about which a vast amount has been written, but very little of the research has considered the role of schools in the process.

    Although black-white segregation in American metropolitan areas remains quite pervasive, declines in such segregation have nonetheless been substantial over the past few decades (Iceland, Weinberg, and Steinmetz 2002). For example, the black-white...

  7. Part I Residential Segregation Today

    • Chapter 2 Pathways to Residential Segregation
      (pp. 27-63)
      Maria Krysan, Kyle Crowder and Michael D. M. Bader

      In a recent report for the Manhattan Institute, the economists Edward Glaeser and Jacob Vigdor (2012) offered the argument that dramatic shifts in public attitudes, changes in housing policies, and improved access to credit have ushered in a new era of residential integration, putting an end to the hyper-segregation that has characterized America’s cities for more than a century. In making this case they point out that all-white neighborhoods are virtually extinct and most isolated black neighborhoods are fading away. To be sure, Glaeser and Vigdor are not alone in their optimism; other leading scholars have interpreted recent declines in...

    • Chapter 3 Declining Significance of Race?
      (pp. 64-96)
      Salvatore Saporito and Caroline Hanley

      As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, race remains a powerful social category that shapes patterns of residence and educational opportunity in the United States. This volume examines the relationship between patterns of residential and educational choice, seeking to problematize the concept of choice by asking how it reproduces social inequalities by race and class. As Paul Jargowsky demonstrates in chapter 4 of this volume, residential segregation by race and by class are mutually reinforcing, with racial segregation playing a key role in shaping patterns of economic segregation. Jargowsky shows that black-white residential segregation declined between...

    • Chapter 4 Segregation, Neighborhoods, and Schools
      (pp. 97-136)
      Paul A. Jargowsky

      Some degree of residential segregation is inevitable in urban settings. Perfect intermingling among disparate groups is statistically unlikely and runs contrary to human nature; people are frequently drawn to those with whom they have something in common. As Kimberly Goyette notes in the introduction to this volume, choices made by individuals, with or without racist intent, can contribute to segregation by race and class. Segregation does not stem from choice alone, however; evidence is ample of ongoing racial discrimination in the housing market (Turner 2005). Moreover, much segregation is driven by explicit policies with regard to zoning, transportation, and taxation...

    • Chapter 5 Residential Mobility and School Choice Among Poor Families
      (pp. 137-166)
      Anna Rhodes and Stefanie DeLuca

      The number of school choice options for urban parents has exploded over the last two decades with the growth of intradistrict choice plans, school choice vouchers, magnet, and charter schools. However, despite expanding options for urban schooling, more than 70 percent of children in public school attend the one zoned for their neighborhood, making residential decisions consequential for children’s development and educational attainment (U.S. Department of Education 2009). Given the strong link between residential location and school attendance, recent research has explored how school choices affect residential decisions, and finds that this connection factors strongly in the minds of middle-class...

  8. Part II Choosing Schools in a Residential Context

    • Chapter 6 Schools, Housing, and the Reproduction of Inequality
      (pp. 169-206)
      Annette Lareau

      Scholarly and popular conversations about inequality often focus on the experience of people living in cities. Yet, suburban communities also vary in the relative affluence of their neighborhoods and school districts. Indeed, recent decades have seen a growth of economic segregation across suburban neighborhoods (Reardon and Bischoff 2011). Suburban school districts today also vary in their budgets, teacher qualifications, and test scores.¹ Research also suggests that children’s life chances can be influenced by the character of the schools and neighborhoods in which they live (for neighborhood effects, see Sampson 2012; Sharkey 2013; for the influence of schools and family background...

    • Chapter 7 Middle-Class Parents, Risk, and Urban Public Schools
      (pp. 207-236)
      Shelley McDonough Kimelberg

      Despite the substantial attention paid to the topic of school choice in academic and policy circles, it is still the case that roughly seven in ten children in the United States attend schools assigned to them by their district, rather than chosen by their parents (U.S. Department of Education 2009). Most of the scholarly work on those parents who do actively select a school examines the various choice mechanisms and institutional alternatives—including voucher programs, charter schools, pilot schools, and magnet schools—that have proliferated in recent decades, especially in large urban areas that serve predominantly disadvantaged student bodies (see...

    • Chapter 8 High-Stakes Choosing
      (pp. 237-267)
      Mary Pattillo, Lori Delale-O’Connor and Felicia Butts

      Much of contemporary school reform ideology is anchored in the ideas of accountability (Hanushek 1994) and choice (Chubb and Moe 1990; Schneider, Teske, and Marschall 2000). Even beyond schools, choice is the key word in health care, retirement and social security, housing policy, and most other arenas in which governments (federal, state, or local) are involved in the public welfare. Choice refers to the personal initiative of residents who must choose from the array of resources available from the state. The model has changed from one in which cities or other government entities “deliver” or “provide” public services like education,...

    • Chapter 9 School Choice in an Urban Setting
      (pp. 268-294)
      Elliot B. Weininger

      For the majority of families in the United States, residential location governs access to schools. Thus, within the broad parameters of federal and state law, the characteristics of the schools children attend are determined by the local jurisdiction in which they live—in other words, the choice of a particular home is simultaneously the choice of a particular set of schools. Of course, growing dissatisfaction on the part of many families with neighborhood public schools has led to the partial erosion of this system: in addition to the long-standing private school sector, we now have an increasing number of hybrid...

    • Chapter 10 Linking Housing Policy and School Reform
      (pp. 295-314)
      Amy Ellen Schwartz and Leanna Stiefel

      A common mantra in the real estate world asserts the importance of “location location location.” Much of the locational advantage of residential property has to do with the quality of local public schools. Parents consider the quality of the schools their children will be able to attend when choosing where to live, although choice sets vary greatly by class and race. Teachers also weigh locational factors, including salaries, cost of living, and working conditions at local schools when deciding where to apply for jobs and when to transfer between school districts. These decisions of parents and teachers result in close...

  9. Index
    (pp. 315-328)