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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Choosing Schools, Choosing Safety: the Role of School Safety in School Choice
by Hailey, Chantal A., Ph.D., New York University, 2020, 268; 27744509
Abstract (Summary)

School choice programs have grown substantially over the past twenty years. While multiple studies have examined families’ preferences for academic quality, few have quantitatively assessed the role of school safety in families’ school choices. This is an important oversight because families state that school safety influences their choices and safety is highly subjective and difficult to measure. In my dissertation, I conduct two studies to examine the relationship between school choices and safety. In the first study, I employ an administrative dataset with New York City (NYC) high school applications and assess families’ sensitivity to safety in their school choices. This analysis incorporates multiple safety aspects families deem as important and heuristics potentially used to judge safety. Results indicate that, independent of school academic, demographic, and geographic attributes, families are less likely to choose disorderly schools, schools in violent neighborhoods, and schools with salient ratings and visual cues that signal insecurity. Families’ sensitivity to official safety measures and heuristics varies by their racial background. In the second study, I conduct a survey experiment to isolate the effects of safety measures and school racial demographics on families’ perceptions of safety and school preferences. Over 1,000 NYC parents and students examined school profiles with randomized racial demographics, graduation rates, safety ratings, and visual cues of safety. Evidence reveals that, independent of aforementioned characteristics, school racial composition shapes families’ willingness to attend schools. I, further, demonstrate that racialized perceptions of measured school characteristics are key to understanding racialized school choices. Using the survey experiment, I find, even when schools have identical safety ratings, non-Black families rate schools with larger proportions of Black students as less safe than other schools and White families believe schools with larger proportions of Latinx students are less safe than White schools. Individuals with stronger racial prisms (i.e. more racial biases toward, more knowledge of negative stereotypes about, and less exposure to Black people) express more dispersed racialized perceptions of school safety. These racialized perceptions contribute to families’ racialized school preferences. Results from these studies challenge the efficacy of school choice policies to abate racial segregation and inequality.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Jennings, Jennifer
Commitee: Hout, Micheal, Sharkey, Patrick, Shedd, Carla, Corcoran, Sean
School: New York University
Department: Sociology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 82/1(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Sociology, Secondary education
Keywords: Education, Judgement and Decision Making, New York City, Race, School Choice, Segregation
Publication Number: 27744509
ISBN: 9798662483309
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