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Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools

Residential Segregation and the Search for a Good School

Annette Lareau, Kimberly Goyette

Publication Year: 2014

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.

Published by: Russell Sage Foundation

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

List of Tables and Figures

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pp. vii-viii

About the Authors

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xxiv

Schools vary enormously in the United States. Some, particularly those serving low-income children, have decrepit buildings, limited supplies, high rates of student turnover, unqualified teachers, and other formidable challenges. By contrast, other schools have wood-paneled...

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Chapter 1. Setting the Context

Kimberly Goyette

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pp. 1-24

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...

Part I. Residential Segregation Today

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Chapter 2. Pathways to Residential Segregation

Maria Krysan, Kyle Crowder, and Michael D. M. Bader

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pp. 27-63

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...

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Chapter 3. Declining Significance of Race?

Salvatore Saporito and Caroline Hanley

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pp. 64-96

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...

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Chapter 4. Segregation, Neighborhoods, and Schools

Paul A. Jargowsky

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pp. 97-136

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...

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Chapter 5. Residential Mobility and School Choice Among Poor Families

Anna Rhodes and Stefanie DeLuca

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pp. 137-166

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...

Part II Choosing Schools in a Residential Context

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Chapter 6. Schools, Housing, and the Reproduction of Inequality

Annette Lareau

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pp. 169-206

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...

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Chapter 7. Middle-Class Parents, Risk, and Urban Public Schools

Shelley McDonough Kimelberg

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pp. 207-236

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...

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Chapter 8. High-Stakes Choosing

Mary Pattillo, Lori Delale-O’Connor, and Felicia Butts

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pp. 237-267

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...

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Chapter 9. School Choice in an Urban Setting

Elliot B. Weininger

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pp. 268-294

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...

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Chapter 10. Linking Housing Policy and School Reform / Amy Ellen Schwartz and Leanna Stiefe

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pp. 295-314

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...


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pp. 315-328

E-ISBN-13: 9781610448208
E-ISBN-10: 1610448200
Print-ISBN-13: 9780871544964
Print-ISBN-10: 0871544962

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2014