Hailey, Chantal A. Racialized Prisms and Perceptions: New Experimental Evidence on Families’ School Preferences
Social scientists continue to debate whether families’ avoidance of schools with higher fractions of racial outgroups results from racial animus (a pure race explanation) or their use of racial demographics as a heuristic for school characteristics (a racial proxy explanation). In this article, I propose a new explanation for these patterns. I argue that racial segregation persists, in part, because families perceive school characteristics through a racial prism, whereby their racial biases, awareness of cultural stereotypes, and racial contexts contribute to racialized perceptions of identical schools. To explore this theory, I conduct an experiment with a racially diverse sample of 900 students and parents currently choosing schools, and externally validate these findings by analyzing school application data from the same city. Families provide their perceptions of, and willingness to attend, hypothetical schools that vary in racial composition, academic outcomes, and safety ratings. I find families interpret the same data differently depending on schools’ racial demographics. These racialized perceptions contribute to the effects of school race on families’ preferences. The racial prism concept demonstrates why efforts to improve school quality alone are unlikely to increase integration, and points to the importance of racialized perceptions in explaining the persistence of racial segregation.
Hailey, Chantal A. “Demanding Safety: How School Safety Relates to Families’ School Choice Behaviors”
American Sociological Association Section on Inequality, Poverty and Mobility: Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Award, 2018
School choice programs have grown substantially over the past 20 years, enabling families to make school choices unbounded by their residential locations. While multiple studies have documented families’ stated preferences for school safety, none has quantitatively and comprehensively examined its role in families’ actual school choice decisions. Pairing an expansive safety dataset with application data from New York City, where all students are required to choose a high school, I assess the extent to which school and neighborhood safety measures and heuristic shortcuts relate to families’ demand for schools. I find that school-specific safety measures are more predictive of school demand than neighborhood-specific measures. After accounting for other characteristics families may consider in their school choices, measures of school safety are positively associated with school demand, while measures of neighborhood safety are not. My findings also suggest that families employ heuristic shortcuts in their school choices. Lower school ratings, visual cues associated with insecurity, such as metal detectors and proximity to public housing, and higher proportions of Black students reduce school demand. Further analyses reveal that heuristic use may lead families to choose unsafe schools, while also exacerbating school racial segregation. Overall, my results demonstrate the ways in which the shortcuts individuals use in micro-decision making processes contribute to macro-patterns of segregation and inequality.
Jacob W. Faber and Hailey, Chantal A. “When Crisis Hits Home: A National Study of the Distal Effects of Foreclosures on Student Achievement”
This study assesses whether the foreclosure crisis of the early Twenty-First Century affected student academic performance. This project enhances scholarship on race and education by examining a potential mechanism through which spatial and racial inequalities manifest: housing disruption. This project involves estimating changes over time in district-level student achievement (measured using data from the Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA)) in response to foreclosures (measured using RealtyTrac data). We explore the acute, year-to-year effects of foreclosures from the peak of the crisis (2009) through the nation’s recovery (2015) in a fixed effects framework. Importantly, because this is the first systematic and national investigation of the effects of foreclosures on student outcomes, our findings carry further implications for understanding the most severe housing crisis since the Great Depression and policies required to protect the most vulnerable during future economic downturns.
Hailey, Chantal A. Jacob W. Faber, Jessica R. Kalbfeld, and Joscha Legewie, “The Effect of Stop and Frisk on Student Test Scores”
This research investigates an understudied contributor to racial inequality in educational out- comes: community-level law enforcement activity. Stop, Question, and Frisk (SQF) has been shown to be disproportionately concentrated in communities of color, with consequences for the psychological and physical health of adults in these neighborhoods. Just as children’s exposure to neighborhood violence is negatively associated with test scores, and neighborhood stressors adversely impact young people’s sleep, stress-levels, and, in turn, academic achievement, we hypothesize that stress associated with higher levels of SQF in a child’s neighborhood will predict academic outcomes. We pair neighborhood-level data on SQF and crime with student-level data to estimate the effects of racially- and spatially-disproportionate policing practices on observed racial disparities in academic achievement. We find that SQF volume in New York City students’ residential neighborhoods is negatively associated with standardized test scores net of crime and controlling for both school and neighborhood fixed effects.