District Response to Demographic Shift in Hazelton, PA:
This case study of Hazleton Area School District (HASD) will address a number of related questions, including: How did HASD respond to the changing demographics? How has their response either facilitated or hindered their immigrant students’ integration? With the school district as our unit of analysis, this research investigates changes in policy and resource allocation over time. It draws on demographic data, policy documents, and interview data to understand how the district responded to their changing population. This second phase of the Hazleton project will investigate what actions the HASD took, either anticipatory or reactionary, to address with the dramatic shift in population, specifically around the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse learners. This evaluation will examine how changes in district-level policies, based on the demographic shift, impacted educational equity for newly-arrived immigrants. Our analysis seeks to identify what practices and policies fostered inclusion, equality of educational opportunity, and equity in this case. In an attempt to learn from HASD and share best practices for communities that will experience this shift in the future, this research is dedicated to understanding the progress that the Hazleton community has made in extending learning opportunities to its newcomers.
Team Members: Hilario Lomeli, Kristina Brezicha, Erica Sausner
Teacher Diversity in Pennsylvania:
Our ultimate goal is to examine diversity in teacher preparation programs in Pennsylvania. As the first step to our goal, we investigate the compositions of the students who are interested in becoming pre-service teachers, current teacher population and student body. Then, we will look at the differences in diversity among these groups using descriptive statistics. Understanding these demographic markers will contribute to our understanding of equity issues in PA by helping us to understand if all populations are adequately represented among teachers of different races and at both levels of education.
Team Members: Jing Liu, Hee Jin Chung
Equity in Rural Pennsylvania Schools:
The focus of this project is to better understand challenges on the college path faced by rural students in Pennsylvania. Our research seeks to answer the following questions: Do rural schools prepare students to pursue higher education? How do rural high schools support or encourage students’ pursuit of higher education? Our study will employ a stratified random sampling of rural schools in Pennsylvania, based on the NCES categories of rural fringe, rural distant, and rural remote. High schools from each category will be represented. We plan to administer surveys to capture demographic information about the school districts; including (but not limited to) the number of AP courses offered, the percentage of students participating in free and reduced lunch, high school graduation rate, the presence of a tracking program, and the rate at which students pursue higher education (both 2-year and 4-year) upon graduation. Interviews will be conducted with high school guidance counselors, and where available, school district superintendents.
Team Members: Erica Lopatofsky-Kryst, Stephen Kotok, Annelise Hagedorn
Suspension Gaps and Discipline Codes
This study explores the relationship between “suspension gaps” (racial disparities in suspension rates) of Pennsylvania school districts, and the content of districts’ codes of student conduct. 19 school districts were selected to represent the districts with the widest and narrowest suspension gaps in Pennsylvania. The districts’ codes of student conduct were then analyzed using open coding, with focus on whether subjective offenses (e.g., “defiance”) were more likely to be punishable by suspension. No relationship between subjectivity of offenses and presence of a wide suspension gap was found found, suggesting that defining suspendable offenses with greater precision may not be enough to close suspension gaps.
Team Members: Stephen Worthington
Alternative Education in Pennsylvania
Alternative education has typically been viewed as the educational route of last resort for students with disciplinary and behavioral issues. This study examines the legal policies and procedures that are in place in Pennsylvania for placing students in alternative forms of education. The study also examines the educational opportunities and problems that exist for students in alternative schools, and how specific districts, such as the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) administer alternative education.
Team Members: Sunny Madahar, Heather Bennett
Racial Segregation in Pennsylvania, 2000-2010
Attendance at schools with high concentrations of poverty or minority students is associated with various negative school and student outcomes, and school segregation is on the rise nationally. We use descriptive statistics, a P-star exposure index, and a decomposition technique to determine students’ exposure to other racial groups and to low-income students and to estimate how much of the exposure difference is due to school-, district-, and metropolitan-level segregation. Our findings show that black and Latino students are both socioeconomically and racially segregated, and the majority of segregation in Pennsylvania occurs between districts within metropolitan areas, suggesting that policymakers must develop innovative integration strategies or re-organize Pennsylvania’s school districts.
Team Members: Stephen Kotok, Katherine Reed
A Slow Failure: How Time Eroded the Promise of Integrated Schools in Philadelphia
The School District of Philadelphia has a long history of de facto segregation and inequitable opportunities for students of color. Two separate lawsuits have attempted to mandate desegregation under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, which specifically provided for redress of de facto segregation. Although the first lawsuit made little impact, the second lawsuit initially appeared to be successful. After 38 years, however, School District of Philadelphia v. Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission was finally resolved with an agreement that failed to address segregation. In this study, we investigate why the case transformed from a desegregation case to a quality of education case. In addition, we analyze the role that the extended length of the case played in its evolution. Drawing on court documents, school district documents, and newspaper articles, we identify three national and local factors that significantly impacted the direction of the case. This case study illustrates the challenges of a desegregation case in the context of a Northern city; in addition, the results demonstrate the fragility of desegregation cases and the limitations of the court as a tool to pursue desegregation. Ultimately, the study questions how our conception of equity has changed over time and what it truly means to provide educational equity for all.
Team Members: Alison Tyler, Steven Nelson
Educational Equity as a Moving Target: Consolidation, Detracking, and Choice in the Woodland Hills School District, Pittsburgh, PA
This project explores the opportunities and challenges inherent in mandating equity through a case study of the Woodland Hills School District, a suburban district just east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The paper describes the thirty-five year history of court-ordered district consolidation, subsequent detracking reforms, and an update of new challenges in the district’s current, post-unitary status. This district offers important lessons for the benefits and drawbacks of using district consolidation as a desegregation tool, as well as the importance of addressing tracking, or “second generation segregation,” within schools.
Team Members: Emily Hodge
Title VI and Civil Rights Enforcement in Pennsylvania
Team Members: Sunny Madahar
Lower Merion Schoool District After Parents Involved
Team Members: Julie Rowland
Borders and Bridges: Reconfiguring Belonging in Hazleton, Pennsylvania
In 2006, amid the rapid influx of Latino/as to the small town of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, the city council passed the Illegal Immigration Relief Act. The ordinance, which banned the renting of properties to and the employment of undocumented immigrants, sparked new divides between the white and Latino/a members of the community. Although the law was never enforced, the legality of Latino/a residents and their belonging in the community was newly called into question, and Hazleton gained national notoriety as one of the most unwelcoming cities in the country for immigrants. As a touchstone in national debates about immigration, both news outlets and academic scholarship examined the new divisions and borders that emerged between white and Latino/a residents in the aftermath of the ordinance. However, in attending to the divisiveness of the ordinance, few accounts have also included stories about how residents—both white and Latino/a—renegotiated the borders that were erected in the community. This oversight risks the uncomplicated reiteration of common tropes of rural poor and working class populations as xenophobic and unchanging. Moreover, it erases on-going work of community organizers to create new spaces of belonging and connection, specifically through education. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to examine both the bordering practices that produced the exclusion and marginalization of Latino/as in Hazleton, as well to explore the role of education as a space through which residents sought to build bridges across those borders.
Team Members: Hilario Lomeli and Jenna Christian