Panel: Policies to Improve Racial Integration in K-16 Educational Environments: Effectiveness and Unintended Consequences

Saturday, November 8, 2014: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Aztec (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Anna Jacob Egalite, Harvard University
Panel Chairs:  Joshua Childs, University of Pittsburgh
Discussants:  Rodney Hughes, Harvard University

Effects of a Statewide Targeted School Voucher Program on Racial Integration
Anna Jacob Egalite1, Patrick Wolf2, Jonathan Mills2 and Jay Greene2, (1)Harvard University, (2)University of Arkansas

A State-By-State Assessment of Percent Plans As a Race-Neutral Means of Achieving Postsecondary Racial Diversity
Daniel Klasik, George Washington University and Justin Dayhoff, University of Maryland

To promote better racial integration in America’s educational institutions, states have experimented with various policies since Brown v. Board of Education first ordered the desegregation of all U.S. public schools. The Civil Rights Act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, for instance, combined a heightened threat of litigation with the financial incentives for elementary and secondary schools to desegregate, particularly in poor districts, which relied most heavily on federal grants (Cascio, Gordon, Lewis & Reber, 2008). Almost a decade later, the Supreme Court sanctioned the use of busing to achieve desegregation goals (Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg, 1971). In higher education, meanwhile, race-conscious affirmative action policies have attempted to improve the representation of minorities in postsecondary institutions across the country. With any policy designed to improve racial diversity in a country’s educational institutions, it is essential that policymakers consider both the policy’s effectiveness as well as any unintended consequences. This unique panel offers new perspectives on efforts to improve racial integration in K-16 environments. The authors question the effectiveness of these policies, asking how viable they are, and testing for the presence of unintended consequences. The first paper examines the effects of a statewide school voucher program on racial integration in Louisiana’s public and private K-12 schools. Although the program was not designed as a vehicle to promote better integration, the movement of almost 8,000 mostly African American students has had important impacts on desegregation efforts, large enough to attract the attention of the Justice Department, which sought an injunction against the program in August 2013 on the grounds that it was interfering with court-ordered desegregation efforts in Louisiana’s public schools. This paper provides the first analysis of the voucher program’s impact on desegregation efforts in Louisiana’s schools. The second paper considers the effects of ending school desegregation polices on patterns of residential segregation of households across neighborhoods. Using a unique dataset of individual-level census records, this paper examines the impacts of ending school desegregation plans on district composition and residential segregation that results from household mobility in these school districts. The third paper simulates what would happen if postsecondary institutions in all states used “percent plans” as a race-neutral alternative to affirmative action. Such plans guarantee admission to public, four-year institutions for all students who graduate in the top of their high school class. Texas’ Automatic Admission Law, for instance, guarantees automatic admission to public colleges and universities to the top 10% of all eligible freshman applicants. The authors show that percent plans are not viable options to imitate the racial diversity levels that affirmative action policies achieve. Taken together, this set of papers provides a contemporary look at a decades-old question. What are the desegregation effects of policies currently operating in America’s K-16 educational institutions and what would be the implications if such plans were to be widely implemented?
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