Panel: Exploring the Link between Education and Housing in the School Choice Era

Thursday, November 7, 2019: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Governor's Square 14 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizer:  Cora J.L. Wigger, Northwestern University
Panel Chair:  Amy Ellen Schwartz, Syracuse University
Discussants:  Walker A. Swain, University of Georgia and Kendra Bischoff, Cornell University

The papers in this panel provide important insights into how policy alters the link between education and housing in the school choice era. This panel traces the development of school choice and student assignment policies, their interaction with the existing housing market, and the effects of these policies on students, schools, and neighborhoods.

Examining these questions in the current policy environment is particularly important as both new student assignment modes and school choice movements have emerged. First, as schools have been released from their Brown v. Board desegregation mandates, districts have often returned to prioritizing student proximity to school over diversity, potentially strengthening the link between housing segregation and access to schools. Second - and related -  we’ve also entered a new era calling for widespread school choice (spanning charters, private school vouchers, and intra- and inter-district choice). The intersection of these policies suggest we need to give renewed attention to how we assign students to schools and the implications for such policies in disrupting or reinforcing the link between education and housing.

This panel addresses several important questions relevant to policymakers and researchers cognizant of the implications of education policy for housing access and neighborhood change. The first paper examines how federal funds for revamping student assignment systems to promote diversity instead came to prioritize proximity between houses and schools. Using a mixed methods framework, the authors examine how white, affluent and middle-class parents’ desires to maintain a default link between housing and schools shaped the design of these new policies. The second paper examines how the location of and access to public housing interacts with student assignment by assessing the outcomes of students who move into public housing in New York City. This paper decomposes effects based on which schools students were zoned to and attended both before and after moving into public housing. The third paper extends prior research on the connections between urban redevelopment and educational outcomes by conducting a formal mediation analysis about the effects of gentrification on student achievement and the extent to which these effects are explained by residential displacement.  The final paper examines the housing market and neighborhood demographic effects of a policy change in Denver, Colorado that sought to break the link between housing and school assignment by using school enrollment zones, forced choice, and universal enrollment in place of default neighborhood schools.

Boundaries of Diversity: How Advantaged Parents Put Limits on Student Assignment Policies
Kathryn McDermott, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Elizabeth DeBray, University of Georgia, Erica Frankenberg, Pennsylvania State University and Maylene Rodriguez Scott, University of Massachusetts

Housing Market Impacts of Extreme School Choice
Cora J.L. Wigger, Northwestern University

Does Public Housing Improve Student Outcomes? Evidence from New York City
Jeehee Han and Amy Ellen Schwartz, Syracuse University

Gentrification, Displacement, and Student Achievement
Alvin Pearman, University of Pittsburgh

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