Carl A. Grant Scholars Lecture/ITP Seminar: My School District Isn’t Segregated: Experimental Evidence on the Effect of Information on Parental Preferences Regarding School Segregation

November 17, 2023, Noon to 1:30 p.m.

259 Educational Sciences

Marissa Thompson

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Columbia University

Marissa Thompson

American public schools are increasingly segregated by income, resulting in substantial educational inequality among U.S. schoolchildren. In this study, we conduct a nationally representative survey to explore the relationship between parental beliefs about and preferences regarding school segregation. Using experimental manipulation, we test if learning about levels of school segregation in their local school district affects a parent’s attitudes and preferences regarding school segregation. In doing so, our study helps elucidate whether disagreement with respect to segregation-reducing policies stems from differences in parental beliefs about the extent of segregation in their district or from differences in parental preferences given existing levels of segregation. We find that parents hold largely inaccurate beliefs about local segregation levels and on average underestimate the economic segregation in their district. However, information treatments that correct inaccurate beliefs do little to influence support for policies to reduce segregation.