DeLuca, Stefanie, & Rosenblatt, Peter
Does Moving to Better Neighborhoods Lead to Better Schooling Opportunitites? Parental School Choice in an Experimental Housing Voucher Program
Johns Hopkins University
Understand why the children of families who participated in the Baltimore MTO program did not experience larger gains in achievement.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Teacher College Record
Vol. 112, No. 5, pp. 1443-1491
- In order to discover whether social programs will be effective, we need to understand how conditions of life for poor families facilitate or constrain their ability to engage new structural opportunities.
- In the case of MTO the vouchers did not have a racial criterion; as a result, families did not relocate to significant less segregated communities.
- The new schools that children were attending often appeared to be geographically close to the neighborhood where the family moved after receiving the MTO voucher. Most of these schools were still in high poverty neighborhoods.
- The neighborhoods that families moved to also tended to have more segregated and poor student bodies.
- Findings suggest that the most important reason that housing opportunity did not translate into a larger increase in school quality is that the families did not relocate to the communities with the highest-performing schools. Their residential choice in large part determined their school choice.
- Resistance to school mobility, lack of information about schools, and low expectations for their children's schools are three aspects of mothers' relationships to schools that help explain why the use of MTO vouchers did not lead to greater changes in the types of school that children attended.
- MTO parents also made decisions about schooling on the basis of considerations that are primary to poor families, such as proximity to transportation, employment, and social support networks.
- Many social policies assume that low-income parents might approach opportunity the same way that middle-class families do, and that the main problem is the money. While most MTO parents emphasized the importance of school and wanted better things for their children, good intentions and hopes were also thrown off course by the instability and chaos that comes from needy extended family members, the nature of low-wage work, and the unpredictability of landlord practices.
- Some policy approaches are ineffective when they are really necessary but insufficient part of the solution to the problems that poor families face.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Academic Achievement, Choice, Neighborhood, Parents
Interviews, Secondary Data
Method of Analysis:
Low-income mothers and children in MTO program
Unit of Analysis:
- Use survey data, census data, school-level data, and interviews from the Baltimore site of a randomized field trial of a housing voucher program.
- Data from the Interim Impacts Evaluation of the Baltimore site of the MTO housing experiment.
- Data from the Department of Education's Common Core of Data to get information on school enrollment numbers, racial composition, and the number of students eligible fro free or reduced lunch..
- Data from the National School-Level State Assessment Score Database to obtain exam rank scores.
- Data from the 2000 Decennial Census to characterize and map the neighborhoods of MTO families.
- Qualitative sample is based on a stratified random subsample of 149 families across the three program groups in Baltimore.
- Supplement the quantitative data by focusing on the 55 interviews that were conducted with control-group families and 35 interviews that were conducted with families who received experimental vouchers and successfully relocated.