Thursday, August 22, 2013

Recent Scholarship

Several pieces in this week's featured scholarship focuses on the reality of resegregation in American schools and the struggle to realize the equality envisioned in Brown v. Board of Education. We start with a study of English language learners in Texas schools by two UT-Austin professors that is making an impact in the media and educators as the new school year begins. 

Heilig and Holme (UT Austin): Nearly 50 Years Post-Jim Crow: Persisting and Expansive School Segregation for African American, Latina/o and ELL students in Texas. 

University of Texas at Austin Professors Julian Vasquez Heilig and Jennifer Jellison Holme's study of school  segregation in Texas shows that ELL learners are being isolated by racial, economic, and linguistic factors, suffering what has been termed “triple segregation.” Their study finds that despite nearly two decades of accountability policies, their statistical analyses show that a majority of ELL students in Texas still attend high-poverty and high-minority schools. Segregation by socioeconomic status (SES) and race and ethnicity is highly significant for predicting whether schools will be low performing relative to high performing.

From the abstract and summary of their findings:

Many school districts in the state of Texas have adopted “open enrollment” policies that allow students to transfer between schools within the same district. These policies, as research has shown, tend to advantage more well-resourced students (particularly because transportation is not provided with most such policies). Due to differences in cultural and social capital, it is likely that students whose home language is not English are less likely to take advantage of choice (Vasquez Heilig, 2011a) due to lack of familiarity with the application process.

One of the most significant contributions to segregation in schools, however, is housing. ELL students, who are often Latina/o, are increasingly residentially isolated in urban and, increasingly, suburban neighborhoods. As Gandara and Contreras (2009) observed, “Housing segregation has particularly onerous effects on Latina/o students learning English. When students’ lack appropriate language models and individuals with whom to interact in English, their acquisition of academic English is delayed." This lack of opportunity is exacerbated when students residing in high-poverty and linguistically isolated neighborhoods attend schools isolated by race/ethnicity, poverty, and language.

In conclusion, nearly 50 years since Jim Crow, the intensity of segregation in Texas schools is still largely problematic. Our statistical analyses show that a majority of ELL students in Texas attend high-poverty and high-minority schools. One positive note is that elementary schools serving ELL students are more likely to be high performing than low performing schools. However, this finding is tempered by the fact that as ELL students progress in the education pipeline in Texas, they are more likely to attend low performing middle schools and high schools (results not shown). Furthermore, ELLs enrolled in secondary schools ultimately have the highest dropout rates and lowest tests scores and graduation rates in Texas. Surprisingly, after almost two decades of Texas-style accountability, the overall finding that segregation by SES and race and ethnicity is still highly significant for predicting whether schools will be low performing relative to high performing suggests that high-stakes testing and accountability as systemic reforms have still not delivered as a cure-all in Texas.

 Read the study at Sage Publishing here.

Douglas E. Abrams (Missouri): The Twelve-Year-Old Girl's Lawsuit that Changed America: The Continuing Impact of NOW v. Little League Baseball, Inc.

From Professor Abrams' abstract on SSRN: In 1972, Little League's national office forced 12-year-old Maria Pepe off her Hoboken, N.J. team because "[g]irls are not eligible." The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights sustained her gender discrimination claim in 1973, and the courts upheld the administrative decision a year later. National reaction to Maria Pepe's courageous insistence on gender equity helped sustain the evolution in gender roles that had accelerated since the Women's Movement of the 1960s. Her landmark legal action also likely influenced the Supreme Court's gradual movement toward intermediate scrutiny of gender discrimination claims; the 1975 federal regulations that assured Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 a prominent role in elementary, secondary and higher education; and children's socialization concerning gender roles in our society.

Palma Joy Strand (Creighton): Is Brown Holding Us Back? Moving Forward, Sixty Years Later

Palma Joy Strand (Creighton) confronts the reality of Brown v. Board of Education has not resulted in actual educational equality. From the abstract on SSRN: Developments since Brown have changed the educational landscape. While the social salience of race has evolved, economic inequality has risen dramatically. Legislative and other developments have institutionalized distrust of those who do the day-to-day work of education: public schools and the teachers within them. Demographic and economic shifts have made comprehensive preschool through post-secondary education a 21st-century imperative, while Common Core Standards represent a significant step toward defining quality K-12 education nationwide. Though we do not live in a post-racial era, we do live in a very different world than the world of Brown. For this transformed situation, we need a new vision — and new legal paradigms to support realization of that vision. A national educational vision of civic innovation that embraces all students and trusts public schools and teachers points to a three-pronged strategy for moving forward. First, States define the vision and instigate negotiations with the national government for support of that vision. Second, local school districts adapt to their communities and students to fulfill the States’ vision. Third, public schools and teachers undertake the day-to-day work of building the relational trust that enables real reform; the federal government provides the additional support necessary for this work.

Kingsley R. Browne (Wayne State): Mind Which Gap? The Selective Concern Over Statistical Sex Disparities

From the abstract on SSRN: There are many statistical disparities between the sexes in our world, but only some become the subject of widespread concern. Ones that are perceived as favoring men are labeled “gaps,” while those that favor women are simply facts. Outside the workplace, men are arguably disadvantaged in a variety of arenas, whether in terms of health and longevity, crime and violence, domestic relations, or education. In the workplace, men are far more likely than women to be killed and to work long hours. None of these disparities is generally viewed as a “gap” deserving of intervention, however. Men earn a disproportionate number of Ph.Ds in some fields, while women earn a disproportionate number in others. Only the former set of disparities, however, is typically viewed as a “gap.” Many of the statistical disparities between the sexes in the workplace are a consequence of average sex differences in the choices that men and women make about education, the workplace, and the family. Many of these choices are products, in part, of biologically influenced sex differences in talents, temperament, and tastes (all of which appear to be influenced by testosterone), and they all involve trade-offs. 


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