Stanford University Study Examines School Enrollments in Gentrified Urban Areas

A new study by Francis A. Pearman, an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University, examines public school enrollments in urban neighborhoods that have undergone gentrification. The term gentrification refers to areas of concentrated poverty that have seen an influx of college-educated middle or upper-middle class families and infrastructure improvements. The study reports that of the roughly 20 percent of urban schools located in divested neighborhoods in the year 2000, roughly one in five experienced gentrification in their surrounding neighborhood by 2014.

Dr. Pearman’s study found that gentrified neighbors tended to show a reduction in public school enrollments in the 2000-to-2014 period. This was particularly true in neighborhoods that saw large numbers of new college-educated White residents. The study did not explore whether White children of these families tended to enroll at private or parochial schools or whether these White families simply had fewer children.

But the study found that neighborhoods that were gentrified by mostly Black or Hispanic college-educated families had an increase in public school enrollments. Thus, Dr. Pearman concludes that college-educated Black and Hispanic families who move into gentrified urban areas may be more likely to entrust their children to the public schools in these areas than their White peers.

Dr. Pearman joined the Stanford faculty earlier this year after teaching at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in development, learning, and diversity from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

The full study, “Gentrification, Geography, and the Declining Enrollment of Neighborhood Schools,” was published on the website of the journal Urban Education. It may be accessed here.

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