The Useable Knowledge series brings education research to GothamSchools readers. In the second installment, Jennifer Stillman presents her research into racially diverse schools in gentrifying neighborhoods. Stillman, a research analyst for the Department of Education’s Office of Innovation, earned a doctorate in politics and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She lives in Harlem.
Leave questions for Stillman about her research in the comments section.
What questions guided your research?
I researched the process of school integration in gentrifying neighborhoods because I think school integration remains an important societal goal, despite the dismantling of racial integration programs across the nation. Gentrifying neighborhoods seem full of potential.
I wanted to figure out how a school without any white, middle-class families goes through the process of integration. What does it take to attract the first white families to a school in a gentrifying neighborhood? And the next wave? And the next? Why do these families stay or go? Is there a point at which we can say the school has successfully integrated? My research question was one of process, not outcomes, relying on existing literature that links integration with positive effects.
I am a “gentry parent” myself (which I define as white, middle and upper-middle class, highly educated parents who are gentrifying a neighborhood with their presence and wealth), and I understand why neighborhood gentrification is controversial.
The Useable Knowledge series brings education research to GothamSchools readers. In the first installment, Janice Bloom and Lori Chajet present their research into the college application and transition process in New York City Schools. Bloom and Chajet both taught in small city high schools that mostly serve low-income students of color before enrolling in CUNY Graduate Center's urban education program. They now co-direct an organization, College Access: Research & Action, to ease the college transition for city students.
Leave questions for Bloom and Chajet about their research in the comments section.
"Willie Rivera Thoughts: Critical Small Schools and the Transition to Higher Education"
An article by Bloom in
"Critical Small Schools: Beyond
Privatization in New York City
Urban Educational Reform," 2012
"We Are All In It Together: The Role of Youth Leadership in College Access"
An article by Chajet
in Voices in Urban Education, 2011
"(Mis)Reading Social Class in the Journey Towards College: Youth Development in Urban America"
An article by Bloom in Teachers
College Record, 2007
"The Power and Limits of Small School Reform: Institutional Agency and Democratic Leadership in Public Education, DOE"
An essay by Chajet in "Keeping the
Promise: Essays on Leadership,
Democracy, and Education," 2007
What questions guided your study?
Bloom: How does social class impact students’ choices about post-secondary education and their transition to college?
Chajet: What happens to students when they move from a small urban public school, with a college-for-all mission, to college, and how does this illuminate the power and the limits of small school reform and the policies and practices of higher education?
How did you conduct your research?
Bloom: I used ethnographic research to study students at three small New York City high schools over the course of a year. The elements of my research were: Weekly observations of college prep or “advisory” classes; focus groups and individual interviews with a small target group of students; interviews with parents, college counselors, teachers, and the school principals; two surveys administered to a large cohort of seniors at each school.
Chajet: My study had two parts: 1) an ethnographic school based study that included participant observation, interviews with staff members and students, and document collection at one academically-unscreened small school; 2) a graduate follow-up study for which I followed a group of 6 students for three and a half-years as they transitioned into and through college – including interviewing them and their families, visiting them at their colleges, collecting their of syllabi and assignments, emailing and calling them. I also did interviews, focus groups and surveys with approximately 100 other graduates.
What were your major discoveries?