Marissa Thompson is a PhD candidate in Sociology of Education at Stanford University. Her research investigates inequality in access and returns to education by race and socioeconomic status. Her survey experiment, co-authored with Sam Trejo, explores how information about local school segregation affects parents’ opinions on desegregation policies.
School segregation has proven a stubbornly persistent feature of the American public schooling system. Despite the large body of research on the measurement and consequences of school segregation, there is a dearth of contemporary research on public opinion surrounding policies to reduce school segregation, particularly among parents. We propose an experiment designed to measure parental beliefs about the levels of school segregation in their local district as well as their preferences toward policies designed to reduce school segregation. We focus on within-district economic school segregation, which has been growing over the past 40 years. Our study makes two main contributions. First, it measures parental beliefs on the amount of local school segregation and parental support for policies designed to reduce segregation. Second, it uses experimental manipulation to test if disagreement with respect to segregation-reducing policies stems from differences in parental beliefs about school segregation or from differences in parental preferences given existing amounts and consequences of school segregation.