Quarterly seminar joint with Grupo de Estudios Migratorios PUC Chile

Sign at the border of Tijuana and US

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Speaker: Jacob Hibel, Associate Professor, Sociology, UC Davis

Title: Latinx Migration and School District-Level Trends in Private and Charter School Availability and Enrollments (joint with Matthew Hall)

Abstract: Using longitudinal data on U.S. school districts’ residential and school populations, we model the associations between Latino school-age population change and subsequent changes in the availability of alternative schooling options as well as white student concentration in these schools of choice. Our findings suggest that across all public school districts in the U.S., expanding Latino youth populations are associated with increases in the number of private and charter schools. More dramatic, however, is the significant, positive association between Latino child population growth and white student concentration in schools of choice relative to traditional public schools. As implied by prior work on racial avoidance and white flight, we find that the sensitivity of white student concentration in private and charter schools to Latino child population change is conditioned by certain key historical and contextual factors. In particular, white enrollments in established Latino school districts – those with comparatively long histories of Latino presence – demonstrate comparatively low responsiveness to Latino student population growth. By contrast, white students in school districts in which Latino student population growth is a comparatively recent phenomenon grew rapidly and substantially more concentrated in private and charter schools between 1998 and 2012. Our findings suggest that non-traditional schooling options become more numerous and between-school segregation more pronounced as local Latino student populations increase, particularly in new destination communities. These patterns portend challenges for communities experiencing unprecedented Latino population growth, as white avoidance of high-minority public schools will likely exacerbate resource and learning opportunity inequalities across schools. To the extent that white families’ selective departure from traditional public schools  in districts experiencing increasing Latino student populations depletes the financial, social, and political resources accruing to those schools and contributes to ethnic balkanization, this population trend may be undermining the academic success of Latino children, the most rapidly expanding segment of the American population.

Moderator: Andrew Webb, Associate Professor in Sociology at the Pontifica Universidad de Chile

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