American Sociological Association

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  1. Choice, Information, and Constrained Options: School Transfers in a Stratified Educational System

    It is well known that family socioeconomic background influences childhood access to opportunities. Educational reforms that introduce new information about school quality may lead to increased inequality if families with more resources are better able to respond. However, these policies can also level the playing field for choice by equalizing disadvantaged families’ access to information. This study assesses how a novel accountability system affected family enrollment decisions in the Chicago Public Schools by introducing new test performance information and consequences.

  2. Understanding Educational Policy Formation: The Case of School Violence Policies in Israel

    This study explores mechanisms underlying processes of educational policy formation. Previous studies have given much attention to processes of diffusion when accounting for educational policy formation. Less account has been given to the day-to-day institutional dynamics through which educational policies develop and change. Building on extensive governmental archival data, complemented with interviews and media analysis, I study the development and transformation of school violence policies in Israel.

  3. Symbolic Politics of the State: The Case of In-state Tuition Bills for Undocumented Students

    A symbolic politics approach contends that the meanings policy proposals convey, and the audiences they attract, may matter more than whether they become law. Yet, we know little about the sociopolitical conditions prompting lawmakers to engage in symbolic politics.

  4. The Origins of Race-conscious Affirmative Action in Undergraduate Admissions: A Comparative Analysis of Institutional Change in Higher Education

    What explains the rise of race-conscious affirmative action policies in undergraduate admissions? The dominant theory posits that adoption of such policies was precipitated by urban and campus unrest in the North during the late 1960s. Based on primary research in a sample of 17 selective schools, we find limited support for the dominant theory. Affirmative action arose in two distinct waves during the 1960s. A first wave was launched in the early 1960s by northern college administrators inspired by nonviolent civil rights protests in the South.

  5. The Racial Composition of Neighborhoods and Local Schools: The Role of Diversity, Inequality, and School Choice

    In an education system that draws students from residentially based attendance zones, schools are local institutions that reflect the racial composition of their surrounding communities. However, with opportunities to opt out of the zoned public school system, the social and economic contexts of neighborhoods may affect the demographic link between neighborhoods and their public neighborhood schools.

  6. Review Essays: Ivory Tower Fantasies about Affirmative Actions

    In a provocative 2002 essay, political scientist Jennifer Hochschild asks: why has affirmative action been so central to the American culture wars, more so than wage discrimination, underfunded public schools, and a litany of other social issues that have far greater impact on more black Americans?1 And why have social scientists paid affirmative action so little empirical attention, in contrast to the deep philosophical and legal thinking on the topic?
  7. Stigma of a Label Educational Expectations for High School Students Labeled with Learning Disabilities

    Poorer outcomes for youth labeled with learning disabilities (LDs) are often attributed to the student’s own deficiencies or cumulative disadvantage; but the more troubling possibility is that special education placement limits rather than expands these students’ opportunities. Labeling theory partially attributes the poorer outcomes of labeled persons to stigma related to labels.

  8. The Paradox of Persistence: Explaining the Black-White Gap in Bachelor’s Degree Completion

    Bachelor’s degree (BA) completion is lower among black students than among white students. In this study, we use data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, together with regression-based analytical techniques, to identify the primary sources of the BA completion gap. We find that black students’ lower academic and socioeconomic resources are the biggest drivers of the gap. However, we also find that black students are more likely to enroll in four-year colleges than are white students, given pre-college resources.
  9. Educational Inequality, Educational Expansion, and Intergenerational Income Persistence in the United States

    The children of high-income parents often become high-income adults, while their low-income peers often become low-income adults. Education plays a central role in this intergenerational income persistence. Because education-based inequalities grew in recent decades, many scholars predicted that intergenerational income persistence would increase. However, previous research suggests that it remained stable across recent cohorts. We address this puzzle.
  10. Risk and Race in Measuring Special Education Need

    George Farkas and Paul L. Morgan on improving special education provision through metric precision.