Education Policy Seminar Series - Fall 2020

For the current Education Policy Seminar Series, please visit our website. 

Fall 2020

Eric TaylorChoice and Consequence: Assessing Mismatch at Chicago Exam Schools​

Parag Pathak, Professor, MIT
Friday September 25, 2020, 12:00-1:15 PM  
Virtual - Zoom Link

Bio: Parag A. Pathak is the Class of 1922 Professor of Economics at MIT, found­ing co-director of the NBER Working Group on Market Design, and founder of MIT's School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative (SEII), a laboratory focused on education, human capital, and the income distribution.  In 2005, based on work in his PhD thesis, Boston's school committee adopted a new mechanism for student placement, citing the desire to make it easier for participants to navigate and to level the playing field for the city's families.  He has also helped to design the Chicago, Denver, Newark, New Orleans, New York, and Washington DC school choice systems. Pathak also studies K-12 education and urban economics.  He has authored leading studies on charter schools, high school reform, selective education, vouchers, and school choice.  In urban economics, he has measured the effects of foreclosures on house prices and how the housing market reacted to the end of rent control in Cambridge MA.

Abstract: The educational mismatch hypothesis asserts that students are hurt by affirmative action policies that place them in selective schools for which they wouldn't otherwise qualify. We evaluate mismatch in Chicago's selective public exam schools, which admit students using neighborhoodbased diversity criteria as well as test scores. Regression discontinuity estimates for applicants favored by affirmative action indeed show no gains in reading and negative effects of exam school attendance on math scores. But these results are similar for more- and less-selective schools and for applicants unlikely to benefit from affirmative-action, a pattern inconsistent with mismatch. We show that Chicago exam school effects are explained by the schools attended by applicants who are not offered an exam school seat. Specifically, mismatch arises because exam school admission diverts many applicants from high-performing Noble Network charter schools, where they would have done well. Consistent with these findings, exam schools reduce Math scores for applicants applying from charter schools in another large urban district. Exam school applicants' previous achievement, race, and other characteristics that are sometimes said to mediate student-school matching play no role in this story.

Three peopleThe Effects of Police Violence on Inner-City Students

Desmond Ang, Assistant Professor, Harvard
Monday October 19, 2020, 12:00-1:15 PM 
Virtual - Zoom Link

Bio: Desmond Ang is an applied economist and assistant professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is particularly interested in the intersection of race, education and government.  His research examines the educational and political ramifications of acts of police violence and the effects of federal election oversight on minority turnout and political polarization. Desmond received his PhD in economics from University of California, San Diego and his B.A. from Dartmouth College.

Abstract: Nearly a thousand officer-involved killings occur each year in the United States. This paper documents the large, racially-disparate impacts of these events on the educational and psychological well-being of Los Angeles public high school students. Exploiting hyper-local variation in how close students live to a killing, I find that exposure to police violence leads to persistent decreases in GPA, increased signs of PTSD and lower rates of high school completion and college enrollment. These effects are driven entirely by black and Hispanic students in response to police killings of other minorities and are largest for incidents involving unarmed suspects.

Three peopleA National Study of Public School Spending and House Prices

Peter Blair, Assistant Professor, Harvard
Friday October 30, 2020, 12:00-1:00 PM 
Virtual - invite only

Bio: Peter Blair is a faculty research Fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research and an assistant professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He serves as principal investigator of the Blair Economics Lab (BE-Lab), an economic research group based at Clemson University. His group's research in applied micro-economic theory focuses on:  supply-side issues in higher education, the effects of occupational licensing on labor market discrimination, and the link between residential segregation and educational outcomes.

Blair received his Ph.D. in applied economics from the Wharton School, his M.A. in theoretical physics from Harvard University, and his B.Sc. in physics and mathematics from Duke University. He is from the beautiful islands of the Bahamas.

Three peopleWork Boots to Combat Boots: Mass Layoffs and Military Enlistment (with Dalton Ruh and Sarah Turner)

Fran Murphy, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army
Monday November 9, 2020, 12:00-1:15 PM 
Virtual - Zoom Link

Bio: Fran Murphy currently serves as a Manpower Analyst and Branch Chief at US Army Human Resources Command at Ft. Knox, KY.  He is a 2002 graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point and earned his PhD in Education Policy Studies and MA in Economics at the University of Virginia.  Fran’s research investigates challenges and opportunities in manning the All-Volunteer Force as well as human capital investment and outcomes for military service members and their families.  His work has published at the Journal of Labor Economics and Journal of Human Capital.  Fran previously served as a rotating military faculty member (Economics) at West Point and with the First Infantry Division on multiple combat deployments to Iraq.  He also completed an MBA at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Abstract: Weak local labor market conditions may change the trajectories of young people who expected to find employment immediately after high school.  Well-documented responses include increasing educational investments, moving to more prosperous labor markets or reducing labor force attachment.  Military enlistment is a channel of potential adjustment that has received less study.  Using data on Army recruits, we demonstrate a significant local response in enlistment to mass layoffs, characterized by increased labor supply to the military rather than increased local military recruiting.  Our work documents the significance of military employment as an important arm of adjustment to local labor market shocks.

John HolbeinNational Service Substantially Increases Dismal Rates of Youth Civic Participation: Evidence from Teach for America

John Holbein, Assistant Professor, UVA
Friday December 4, 2020, 12:00-1:15 PM 
Virtual - Zoom Link

Bio: John B. Holbein is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. He also has a courtesy appointment in the School of Education and Human Development. He studies political participation, political inequality, democratic accountability, political representation, and education policy. His work has been published in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, the Economics of Education Review, and Nature Human Behavior (to name a few). His research has been supported by two large National Science Foundation grants. His book--Making Young Voters: Converting Civic Attitudes into Civic Action--is forthcoming at Cambridge University Press. His work has been covered by outlets such as the Washington Post, Vox, New York Magazine, the Boston Globe, NPR, Bloomberg, Politico, Fast Company, Salon, Business Insider, the 74, VoxEu, and FiveThirtyEight.

Abstract: The United States has one of the, if not the, lowest rates of youth political participation in the world. Low, and by some accounts declining, rates of citizen engagement threaten to undercut the social capital that holds communities together and undermine the basic pillars of democracy. However, little is known about how to address dismal rates of youth civic participation. In this paper, we examine the causal effect of a recently proposed large-scale solution: national service. Leveraging a large scale sample of young people matched to nationwide voter files and a unique natural experiment, we explore the causal effect of admittance and participation in Teach For America---a prominent national service program that integrates college graduates into low-income schools for two years. We find that Teach For America has a large and a long-lasting effect on youth political participation---substantially increasing the voting and party joining of participants. Our results show that national service programs have a great potential to help ameliorate narrow the stubborn gap between young and older citizens in the United States.