Sunday, August 9, 2009

ASA Day 3

Another day, another set of interesting sessions. Though not as many as the last couple days since I took the afternoon off to cycle across the Golden Gate bridge. No offense to anybody who presented this afternoon, I just thought that'd be more fun.

Anyway . . . Joshua Klugman presented an interesting paper looking at participation rates of Hispanic parents using data from ECLS. In both first grade and fifth grade, the racial makeup of the school didn't seem to affect participation of parents who were born in the country. But recent immigrants reported being significantly more likely to participate when the school enrolled of more Hispanic students. The authors made it clear that they weren't advocating more segregated schools in order to encourage parental involvement but, rather, that we should find out what, exactly, is leading to more parental involvement in these schools first. One astute audience member asked if it was possible that schools that higher participation rates also tended to have more Hispanic and/or Spanish-speaking staff members.

Matthew Desmond, a grad student from Wisconsin, presented perhaps the best paper I've seen at a conference -- though it didn't explicitly address education. Desmond spent much of the past year living in a couple of low-income neighborhoods in Milwaukee and meeting both landlords and the people they were evicting as part of an ethnography. I have to say that in all my reading on and thinking about poverty I can't say I ever recall evictions come up. It turns out that 9% of rental units are evicted each year. Black women are more likely than Black men to be evicted, but gender disparities don't seem to exist among other races/ethnicities. He had two main explanations for the gender disparity -- one was that 85% of evictions are conducted by men, who often are quite brusque with their renters and respond better to the way that males tend to respond (confrontation) to eviction notices than the way that females tend to respond (avoidance), the other was that males were often allowed to "work off" their back rent by doing odd jobs around the property -- something that females almost never thought to offer (unless that odd job involved sex). He pointed out that those who were evicted were often not the tenants who owed the most back rent but, rather, involved a combination of back rent and doing something to upset the landlord. Meanwhile, people who were evicted (unsurprisingly) found it very difficult to find new housing and almost always ended up moving to smaller units in poorer neighborhoods. So, what does this have to do with education? Well, educational outcomes are affected by about a million different things -- including various aspects of one's home life. I don't think it would be going out on a limb to speculate that being evicted and moving to worse housing wouldn't exactly help a kid perform their best in school over the week or month that it transpired.

I also noticed that Sara Goldrick-Rab has a slightly more diplomatic take on the discussion on Friday.

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