American Sociological Association

Choosing Schools in Changing Places: Examining School Enrollment in Gentrifying Neighborhoods

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 that the neighborhood-school link is weakening the most in neighborhoods experiencing gentrification. Using a novel combination of individual, school, and neighborhood data that link 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 with non-gentrifying neighborhoods when nearby choice options are available. Recent movers to gentrifying neighborhoods bypass local schools more compared with parents who have lived in the neighborhood longer. Results have implications for thinking about neighborhood-school linkages in an era of school choice and urban change.


Jennifer Candipan





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