White, Asian, Latinx, and Black Families Make Race-Based School Choices

Hailey, Chantal A.
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University of Texas at Austin Population Research Center
Most students in the United States attend racially segregated schools. To explain school racial segregation, researchers often highlight structural factors such as school assignment based on racially segregated neighborhoods. And while these structures contribute to segregation, schools in cities without residential school assignments are also segregated. Understanding families’ school preferences, particularly if they are motivated by race, is necessary to evaluate the impact on racial segregation of expanded school-choice policies. Using data from an experimental study in which eighth-grade students and their parents were asked about their willingness to attend hypothetical high schools with randomized majority White, majority Latinx, majority Black, and racially diverse compositions, PRC faculty scholar Chantal Hailey finds that schools’ racial composition affects families’ school preferences. In order to decrease racial segregation in schools, Dr. Hailey advocates for policymakers to dismantle educational practices that perpetuate negative stereotypes and marginalize student populations.