05 SES 17, Location, Alienation and Migration
One of the most pressing challenges for Western school systems is the provision of equal educational opportunities in light of a more and more ethnically heterogeneous student body. A core concern is thereby ethnic stratification; that students of different ethnic origin get unequal access to the different tiers of an educational system (e.g., at transitions into upper secondary tracks or into higher tertiary education).
Qualifying these concerns, previous research in different countries at different transitions shows that unequal access is often a result of achievement disparities between groups. However, accounting for such achievement differences, the observed patterns remain rather curious: at a given level of school performance, ethnic groups still vary as to how likely they are to enter a higher educational tier; with some minority groups showing a lower, many others even showing a higher likelihood than majority students (e.g., Brinbaum and Cebolla-Boado 2007; Dollmann 2010; Jackson 2012; Jackson, Jonsson, and Rudolphi 2012; Van De Werfhorst and Van Tubergen 2007). In other words, performance disparities alone cannot explain ethnic stratification in education. Additional explanations have been put to test, like group differences in educational aspirations or in discrimination (e.g., Dollmann 2017). Such explanations, however, cannot fully account for the observed differences in school transitions. To this date, the origins of ethnic stratification in education remain an unresolved issue.
Tackling this issue, our work questions a so far untested, underlying assumption: that all ethnic groups face similar spatial opportunities to attend the different educational tiers. Focusing on the geographical setting that schools and families are embedded in, we ask whether (perceived) home-to-school distances explain ethnic stratification in education. To answer this question, we turn to the case of secondary school choices in Germany. More specifically, we examine perception differences of home-to-school distances between ethnic groups in Germany and assess whether such differences explain their different track choices in secondary schooling.
(Perceived) home-to-school distances are a central determinant of (secondary) school choices. Depending on the educational system, authorities commonly enforce legal placement rules according to which families’ place of residence determines (more or less strictly) which school their children attend. However, even in the absence of such school catchment areas, the composition of schools most often reflects the composition of neighborhoods; simply, because there is a practical limit to the distance between home and school (Waslander, Pater, and van der Weide 2010). From this perspective, if some ethnic groups have to (or perceive to) travel greater distances to high track schools, they will be less likely to choose these schools.
At the same time, several theoretical arguments suggest that (perceived) home-to-school distances indeed vary across ethnic groups in Germany. (1) Residential patterns in Germany are ethnically segregated (Janßen and Schroedter 2007; Musterd 2005), implying that distances to schools vary systematically between ethnic groups. (2) The spatial distribution of different types of secondary schools is far from random (Kemper and Weishaupt 2011; Kramer 2000; Terpoorten 2014), such that distances to high-track schools may in fact differ across ethnic groups. But even if home-to-school distances are similar, ethnic groups are still likely to perceive them differently: (3) Ethnic groups with on average fewer resources will perceive a given distance as a greater obstacle as compared to groups with better endowments. Finally, (4) majority families tend to avoid their locally closest school more often if they live in ethnically mixed areas, a phenomenon known as white flight (e.g., Fairlie and Resch 2002; Renzulli and Evans 2005). From this perspective, it may well be the case that majority members report lower traveling efforts to a given high-track school if they live in ethnically mixed areas.
We draw on data from the German national extension of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2006. The dataset includes information from 4th grade students, as well as from their teachers, school heads and parents. In the German national extension, parents have been asked, which school track their child is likely to attend during the next school year and which school track they wish their child to graduate from. Further, they have been asked to assess the distance from their homes to the nearest school of every German school track, and to assess the effort it takes to travel this distance. Another question covers the estimated financial cost for attending the different school tracks. We analyze the intended secondary school choices of the families in the data. By applying conditional logit models, we test whether choices vary with the reports of distances to high-track schools and of efforts to travel these distances. Doing so, we aim to come to a better understanding of why students of different ethnic origin often end up in different educational tiers of a school system.
We expect to find differences between ethnic groups in their perceptions of the efforts to travel a given distance to a high-track school. More specifically, the outlined theoretical arguments lead us to the following expectations: − (Perceived) home-to-school distances and expected traveling efforts vary across ethnic groups. − Ethnic groups with on average fewer economic resources report that it takes greater efforts to travel a given distance to a high-track school. − With growing proportions of minority students at their primary school, majority families tend to report that it takes less effort to travel a given distance to a high-track school, thereby expressing their white flight preferences. − Reported distances and effort to travel account for ethnic differences in intended choices of a school type.
Brinbaum, Yaël and Hector Cebolla-Boado. 2007. “The School Careers of Ethnic Minority Youth in France.” Ethnicities 7(3):445–74. Retrieved (http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1468796807080237). Dollmann, Jörg. 2010. Türkischstämmige Kinder Am Ersten Bildungsübergang. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Retrieved (http://link.springer.com/10.1007/978-3-531-92461-8). Dollmann, Jörg. 2017. “Positive Choices for All? SES- and Gender-Specific Premia of Immigrants at Educational Transitions.” Research in Social Stratification and Mobility 49:20–31. Retrieved (http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0276562416301172). Fairlie, Robert W. and Alexandra M. Resch. 2002. “Is There ‘White Flight’ into Private Schools? Evidence from the National Educational Longitudinal Survey.” Review of Economics and Statistics 84(1):21–33. Retrieved (http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/10.1162/003465302317331892). Jackson, M., J. O. Jonsson, and F. Rudolphi. 2012. “Ethnic Inequality in Choice-Driven Education Systems: A Longitudinal Study of Performance and Choice in England and Sweden.” Sociology of Education 85(2):158–78. Retrieved September 6, 2016 (http://soe.sagepub.com/cgi/doi/10.1177/0038040711427311). Jackson, Michelle. 2012. “Bold Choices: How Ethnic Inequalities in Educational Attainment Are Suppressed.” Oxford Review of Education 38(2):189–208. Retrieved September 6, 2016 (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03054985.2012.676249). Janßen, Andrea and Julia H. Schroedter. 2007. “Kleinräumliche Segregation Der Ausländischen Bevölkerung in Deutschland: Eine Analyse Auf Der Basis Des Mikrozensus.” Zeitschrift Für Soziologie 36(6):453–72. Kemper, Thomas and Horst Weishaupt. 2011. “Region Und Soziale Ungleichheit.” Pp. 209–19 in Empirische Bildungsforschung, edited by H. Reinders, H. Ditton, C. Gräsel, and B. Gniewosz. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Retrieved (http://link.springer.com/10.1007/978-3-531-93021-3_18). Kramer, Caroline. 2000. “Regionale Disparitäten Im Bildungswesen — Objektive Und Subjektive Indikatoren Zur Regionalen Ungleichheit.” Pp. 163–98 in Solidarität, Lebensformen und regionale Entwicklung. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Retrieved (http://link.springer.com/10.1007/978-3-322-95182-3_6). Musterd, Sako. 2005. “Social and Ethnic Segregation in Europe: Levels, Causes, and Effects.” Journal of Urban Affairs 27(3):331–48. Retrieved (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.0735-2166.2005.00239.x). Renzulli, Linda A. and Lorraine Evans. 2005. “School Choice, Charter Schools, and White Flight.” Social Problems 52(3):398–418. Retrieved (https://academic.oup.com/socpro/article-lookup/doi/10.1525/sp.2005.52.3.398). Terpoorten, Tobias. 2014. Räumliche Konfiguration Der Bildungschancen: Segregation Und Bildungsdisparitäten Am Übergang in Die Weiterführenden Schulen Im Agglomerationsraum Ruhrgebiet. Bochum: ZEFIR. Waslander, Sietske, Cissy Pater, and Maartje van der Weide. 2010. Markets in Education: An Analytical Review of Empirical Reserach on Market Mechanisms in Education. Paris. Van De Werfhorst, Herman G. and Frank Van Tubergen. 2007. “Ethnicity, Schooling, and Merit in the Netherlands.” Ethnicities 7(3):416–44. Retrieved (http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1468796807080236).
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