School choice expansion in recent decades has weakened the strong link between neighborhoods and schools created under a strict residence-based school assignment system, decoupling residential and school enrollment decisions for some families. Recent work suggests the neighborhood-school link is weakening the most in neighborhoods experiencing gentrification. Using a novel combination of individual, school, and neighborhood data that links children to both assigned and enrolled schools, this study examines family, school and neighborhood factors that shape whether parents enroll in the assigned local school. I find that parents are more likely to opt out of neighborhood schools in gentrifying neighborhoods, compared to non-gentrifying neighborhoods, when nearby choice options are available. Recent movers to gentrifying neighborhoods bypass local schools more compared to parents that have lived in the neighborhood longer. Results have implications for thinking about neighborhood-school linkages in an era of school choice and urban change.
Keywords: neighborhood change, gentrification, school choice, school preferences, inequality, sociology of education
This article examines the racial/ethnic population dynamics of ascending neighborhoods—those experiencing socioeconomic growth. Drawing on Census and American Community Survey data from 1990 to 2010, we first explore whether changes in racial/ethnic composition occur alongside ascent. We find that, while most neighborhoods’ racial/ethnic composition does not dramatically change during this period, neighborhoods that experienced ascent are much more likely to transition from majority-minority to mixed race or predominantly White than nonascending neighborhoods. Then, we use microdata to analyze whether two potential drivers of ascent, the in-migration of higher-socioeconomic status (SES) households and changes in the fortunes of long-term residents, are racially/ethnically stratified. We argue that the process of neighborhood socioeconomic ascent perpetuates neighborhood racial/ethnic hierarchy. While most Black and Hispanic neighborhoods remain majority-minority, those that ascend are more likely to experience a succession of high-SES White residents replacing minority residents.
Neighborhoods and schools are both important contexts for children’s well-being, including educational outcomes. While often posited, little evidence documents inequalities in schools serving high- and low-income neighborhoods. In this article, we use geospatial techniques to combine five administrative datasets to examine the characteristics of local public schools serving high- and low-income neighborhoods in U.S. metropolitan areas in 2013-14. We find that high-income neighborhoods are served by schools with greater social, financial, and instructional resources and greater student achievement than schools serving low-income neighborhoods. Moreover, when metropolitan neighborhoods are highly segregated by income, these inequalities are exacerbated. Our results demonstrate the link between neighborhood and school disadvantage, with implications for policymakers concerned about social mobility and inequality.
This study uses participant observation to examine how an all-female collective in Los Angeles uses urban cycling culture as a way to contest inequalities and advocate for social change in communities of color. Bridging the literatures on gentrification and social movements, I examine how the collective uses the bicycle as a unifying tool to draw disparate individuals together and, through the group’s practices and rituals, generates a shared sense of collective identity and politicized consciousness embedded within the uneven spatial development of Los Angeles. I demonstrate how this politicized consciousness drives a collective spirit of resistance that challenges gentrification by re-imagining and re-embodying space through organized actions and everyday practices. I find that organized anti-gentrification resistance is not merely reactionary, but rather entails pre-figurative action and visioning for space and community. Overall, findings speak more broadly to how communities of color facing exclusion and marginalization make claims to space and community.
Few studies examine how school and neighborhood composition in the U.S. correspond over time, particularly in a context of neighborhood change. As neighborhoods diversify along racial and economic lines, do public schools also diversify or grow increasingly dissimilar from their surrounding areas? Drawing on novel data linking neighborhoods and schools in the U.S. in 2000 and 2010, I document: how racial composition corresponds over time between traditional public schools and the neighborhoods they serve; how the compositional gap changes when greater school choice is available; and how the compositional gap varies between neighborhoods experiencing various trajectories of socioeconomic change. I find an increasing mismatch in the white composition of public schools and their surrounding neighborhoods, specifically that schools enroll fewer white students than the composition of the neighborhood. The compositional mismatch grows the most in neighborhoods experiencing socioeconomic ascent, particularly as the number of nearby non-neighborhood schools increases.
Every year in the summer, a group of women, women of color, and women-identified riders cycle through the city of Los Angeles to reclaim space and visibility in a city that too often ignores them and their needs. This research essay uses participant observation to describe and analyze reasons and effects of the 2014 group ride event.