Choice and Change: The Implications of Charter School Expansion for School and Neighborhood Diversity in NYC

This quasi-experimental study by Sarah A. Cordes and Agustina Laurito examines the effect of charter school expansion in New York City on school and neighborhood racial diversity. The removal of attendance boundaries in areas with school choice creates opportunities to disentangle neighborhood and school segregation, but prior evidence suggests that charter schools are more segregated than traditional public schools. Study authors compare the racial segregation within the same school among students in grades without an increase in charter school options to students in grades with an increase in charter school options. They find that racial diversity in traditional public schools increases as seats in charter schools in the area increase. The increase in diversity stems from a decrease in intense segregation of black and Hispanic students and an increase in the share of white students in traditional public schools. The neighborhood segregation trends are similar, but decrease at a slightly lower rate than for school segregation. These findings suggest that the introduction of charter schools to New York City did not increase, but rather slightly decreased, school and neighborhood segregation.

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