How School Choice Contributes to Persistent Racial Segregation


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A new study by Chantal Hailey, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, finds that White, Asian and Latino parents in New York City all express strong racial/ethnic preferences in where to send their kids to high school. The study suggests that these preferences contribute substantially to school segregation in New York, which has one of the most racially segregated school systems in the country. Dr. Hailey conducted an experiment with a racially diverse group of parents attending New York high school fairs. Families were asked to rank their preferences for a variety of hypothetical high schools. The school profiles included information on safety ratings, metal detector presence, graduation rates, and extracurricular activities. The profiles also included, but did not highlight, information about the racial/ethnic demographics of the schools. The goal was to discern how large a role the racial/ethnic information played when families were selecting among otherwise similar schools. Dr. Hailey found that when White, Asian, and Latino parents were presented with the choice of otherwise similar schools that were majority Black, majority White, majority Latino or mixed, the racial/ethnic demographics directly influenced their preferences. But Black parents showed no statistically significant preference for...