Category: Session 5: Urban Education

Geography of Charter School Opportunity: The Case of New York City Subway Lines and Education Deserts

Charisse Gulosino
University of Berkeley

The concept of “education deserts” has been recently used in education as a framework to identify areas where there are no colleges or neighborhood public schools. Like “food desert” neighborhoods’ lacking access to nutritious, safe and affordable food—there exist deserts where educational opportunities are all but nonexistent. While research on food deserts is in its infancy, research completed to date shows that deserts do not occur by chance but are systematically related based on conditions determined by race, class, and other contextual factors, resulting in gaps in service provision. It’s worth noting that the term “education desert” is relatively new; the operational definition serves as proof of concept for further inquiry into this phenomenon, particularly as it relates to expanding choice in poor neighborhoods. Current New York City Department of Education data and from multiple federal sources are used to determine the spatial terrain of regular public school high-need areas. The spatial analysis is superimposed on the subway public transportation network to produce a subway map of stops and lines quantified by over a wide range of potential students attending high-need public schools. The mapping of the public school high-need landscape and public transportation reveals that existing charter schools may expand in connected areas with dense proportions of vulnerable students in high-need public schools. These findings could be used as a guide to facilitate charter school locational patterns and thus greater equity in access.

How Policymakers Make Sense of and Act On Mapping Data in Education Research

Jeremy Singer
Wayne State University

Sarah Winchell Lenhoff
Wayne State University

How might the use of maps shape policymakers’ interpretation and use of research? We answer this question through a reflective case study of policymaker and community member responses to education policy research that leverages mapping and geospatial analysis. Based on interviews with educational leaders and city officials, we discuss their relative attention to mapped data in the reports, the nature of conclusions that stakeholders drew from the maps, and the way in which their reading of maps interacted with their reading of the research as a whole. We found that our partners who were already concerned with the geography of absenteeism, exit, and mobility paid more attention to the maps; the maps encouraged our partners to think about collaborative and concrete solutions; and all our partners had a desire for more mapped data, especially in the form of digital and interactive maps. Policymakers may be especially compelled by geographic representations of educational issues and may adopt more concrete and solutions-oriented thinking when associating educational issues with specific places under their purview. Further, policymakers are likely to engage with digital maps that make geographic data more accessible and more interactive. Beyond simply including maps in research and policy reports, researchers can approach mapping as joint work with policymakers, using the process and products of geospatial analysis as an opportunity for ongoing engagement with policymakers.

Mapping and placemaking to understand school segregation and integration

Bryan Mann
University of Alabama

Jaclyn Dudek
University of Alabama

School and neighborhood segregation represent spatial circumstances. Yet, literature on school and neighborhood segregation tends to focus on outcomes associated with space, but not centrally linked to it: Educational scores, income inequality, healthcare access, and so forth. While these outcomes help explain features of space and (in)justice, our study expands on past research because it explores a key spatial question related to school segregation: How do segregation and integration shape individual placemaking of a community? Our study explores this question through interviews and mapping activities with adults who lived during different school segregation circumstances in one southern city, including legal segregation, forced integration, and re-segregation. Initial findings reveal that while housing segregation and isolation tended not to change over time in the city we studied, individuals placed different meaning to their home circumstances based on their relationships with in-neighborhood and out-of-neighborhood educational organizations. For some, school segregation exacerbated a sense of confinement that came with neighborhood segregation. For others, integration and increased educational options led to a more expansive sense of community space and place.