My fundamental research interest is examining the causes and consequences of inequality in society. Using the quantitative methods of applied microeconomics and the contextual approach of political economy, I am especially interested in understanding the sometimes contradictory roles that institutions, such as education, play in perpetuating inequality, and potential policy solutions to ameliorate economic and social inequalities.
Title: Three Essays on the Political Economy and Economics of the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Chair: Dania V. Francis (Economics and Afro-American Studies)
Member: Michael Ash (Economics)
Outside Member: Kathryn McDermott (Education & Public Policy)
Works in Progress
“Carceral Schools and College Expectations: Evidence from the National Crime Victimization School Crime Supplement” Job Market Paper (manuscript available here)
This study examines the impact of school security on students’ expectations that they will attend college in the future. Using data from the National Crime Victimization Survey: School Crime Supplement and focusing on high school students, I show that visible and intrusive security measures negatively impact students’ expectations of their future educational attainment. Using a probit model, I estimate with significance that metal detectors are associated with a -0.024 average marginal effect on a student’s expectation of attending any college after high school and a -0.021 average marginal effect for expecting to graduate from a four-year college. Further, I show that for Black students and students of color, the effects tend to be larger, and that for Black males, the presence of security guards or police has a negative effect on expectations of attending any college. I survey the literature on the school-to-prison pipeline, school security, and racial identity and schooling to theorize that several channels contribute to this negative effect, including: the crowding out of college preparatory resources, internalized negative feedback and stereotype threat, and the development of perceptions of injustice with regards to school security. This finding illustrates an important consequence of increasing school security in regards to students’ expectations of their future educational attainment and a potential human capital cost of these measures, which perpetuates existing social and economic inequalities.
“Testing the Mark of School Discipline”
Using data from the High School Longitudinal Survey of 2009, along with archival data on college application questions, I test whether or not holding a high school disciplinary record impacts college application behaviors, admissions outcomes, and financial aid and scholarship awards. I draw on the work of the “ban the box” literature on the effects of criminal records in the labor market, to examine whether or not school disciplinary records “mark” student applications to post-secondary institutions and function as a negative credential.
“Where Cops Outnumber Counselors: The Economics of Carceral Schools”
In this essay, I describe the economic conditions of K-12 schools and districts where police staff outnumber levels of support staff, such as psychologists and counselors. To do so, I use school-level data from the Office of Civil Rights Data Collection to examine school staffing and resource levels, and begin to explore the hypothesis that disproportionate security resources may crowd out resources for student support. Matching these data with census tract level economic indicators, I then look at the economic conditions of districts with disproportionate policing to support staff ratios, and describe how neighborhood conditions such as residential segregation, mobility, unemployment, per pupil school funding, and incarceration rates foster carceral school environments.