Education Policy Seminar Series - Spring 2019

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

Spring 2019

The Long-Run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers

Constance A. Lindsay, Research Associate, Urban Institute
Monday March 25th 2019, 12:00-1:30 PM  
Holloway Hall (Rm 116), Bavaro Hall
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Bio: Constance A. Lindsay is a research associate at the Urban Institute, where she studies K–12 education policies. Lindsay earned a doctorate in human development and social policy from Northwestern University, where she was an Institute of Education Sciences’ predoctoral fellow. Since leaving Northwestern, Lindsay has worked in education policy in various contexts, applying her research training in traditional studies and in creating and evaluating new systems and policies regarding teachers. Lindsay’s areas of expertise include teacher quality and diversity, analyzing and closing racial achievement gaps, and adolescent development. Her work has been published in such journals as Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis and Social Science Research. Lindsay received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Duke University and master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University. Before doctoral study at Northwestern, she was a Presidential Management Fellow at the US Department of Education.

Abstract: In this talk, I examine the impact of having a same-race teacher on students' long-run educational attainment. Leveraging random student-teacher pairings in the Tennessee STAR class-size experiment, we find that black students randomly assigned to a black teacher in grades K-3 are 5 percentage points (7%) more likely to graduate from high school and 4 percentage points (13%) more likely to enroll in college than their peers in the same school who are not assigned a black teacher. We document similar patterns using quasi-experimental methods and statewide administrative data from North Carolina. To examine possible mechanisms, we provide a theoretical model that formalizes the notion of “role model effects” as distinct from teacher effectiveness. We envision role model effects as information provision: black teachers provide a crucial signal that leads black students to update their beliefs about the returns to effort and what educational outcomes are possible. Using testable implications generated by the theory, we provide suggestive evidence that role model effects help to explain why black teachers increase the educational attainment of black students.

Creating Moves to Opportunity: Experimental Evidence on Neighborhood Choice Among Housing Voucher Recipients

Peter Bergman, Assistant Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University
Monday April 8th 2019, 12:00-1:30 PM 
Holloway Hall (Rm 116), Bavaro Hall
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Co-sponsored by the Curry Research Lectureship Series, the Batten School Research Speaker Series, and the Department of Economics

Bio: Peter Bergman is an assistant professor of economics and education at Teachers College, Columbia University and co-director of Education, Technology and Opportunity Initiative. Much of his research combines technology, big data and field experiments to improve outcomes for low-income families at scale. He has conducted large-scale experiments aimed at improving parental engagement, helping families find and move to neighborhoods that promote economic mobility, understanding the effects of school integration, using predictive analytics to track students in higher education, and assessing discrimination in systems of school choice. Peter’s research has been covered by the New York Times, CNN, and NPR, among other outlets. Peter earned a BA in political economy from the University of California, Berkeley, and a PhD in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Abstract: Low-income families in the United States tend to live in neighborhoods that offer limited opportunities for upward income mobility. This is the case even though there are often affordable neighborhoods nearby that would produce much better outcomes for their children. One explanation for why families do not “move to opportunity” is that they prefer their current neighborhoods because of other amenities, such as proximity to family or jobs. An alternative explanation is that families are unable to find housing in high-opportunity areas because of constraints such as a lack of liquidity, information, or search frictions. We test between these two explanations using a randomized controlled trial involving housing voucher recipients in the Seattle Metro Area. We provided a package of services to reduce barriers to moving to high-upward-mobility neighborhoods, including information, customized search assistance, and landlord outreach. The intervention substantially increased the fraction of families who moved to high-upward-mobility areas. Using a quasi-experimental analysis, we then test whether typical changes to voucher payment standards alone can impact the fraction of families who move to high-opportunity areas. We conclude that constraints such as a lack of assistance in the housing search process play a much larger role in explaining why low-income families are segregated into low-opportunity areas than preferences about neighborhoods. Our results suggest that there is substantial scope to design affordable housing policies to help more families who want to move to high-opportunity areas do so, at little incremental cost to taxpayers.


Obstacles and Pathways to Equal Educational Opportunity

Kimberly Jenkins Robinson, Austin E. Owen Research Scholar & Professor of Law, University of Richmond School of Law
Monday April 22nd 2019, 12:00-1:30 PM  
Holloway Hall (Rm 116), Bavaro Hall
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Bio: Kimberly Jenkins Robinson is the Austin E. Owen Research Scholar & Professor of Law, University of Richmond School of Law. She is a national expert who speaks domestically and internationally about educational equity, equal educational opportunity, civil rights and the federal role in education. Her scholarship has been published widely in leading journals and proposes innovative legal and policy solutions for ensuring that all children receive equal access to an excellent education.

In 2019, New York University Press will publish her second edited book, tentatively titled “Thoughts on a Federal Right to Education,” which gathers leading constitutional and education law scholars to consider the challenging questions raised by recognizing a federal right to education in the United States. In 2015, Harvard Education Press published her book that was co-edited with Professor Charles Ogletree Jr. of Harvard Law School, titled “The Enduring Legacy of Rodriguez: Creating New Pathways to Equal Educational Opportunity.” Robinson’s article, “Disrupting Education Federalism” and published in the Washington University Law Review, won the 2016 Steven S. Goldberg Award for distinguished scholarship in education law from the Education Law Association. This article argues that the United States should reconstruct its understanding of education federalism to support a national effort to ensure equal access to an excellent education. Her scholarship has appeared in the Harvard Law Review , Stanford Law and Policy Review, University of Chicago Law Review, Boston College Law Review, William and Mary Law Review and UC Davis Law Review, among other venues.

Among her many service roles at the University of Richmond, Robinson recently served as chair of the law school’s Diversity Committee and co-chair of a university-wide faculty learning community on reducing implicit bias in teaching. She previously served as co-chair of the Faculty Senate’s Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Committee, where she led the drafting of recommendations for strengthening the university’s sexual assault policy, including many recommendations that were incorporated into a revised sexual assault policy. Robinson also served as chair of a university-wide faculty learning community on reducing stereotype threat in teaching.

Prior to joining the Richmond Law faculty in 2010, Robinson was an associate professor at Emory University School of Law and a visiting fellow at George Washington University Law School. She also served in the General Counsel’s Office of the U.S. Department of Education, where she helped draft federal policy on issues of race, sex and disability discrimination. In addition, Robinson represented school districts in school finance and constitutional law litigation as an associate with Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells). She will join the University of Virginia School of Law faculty in the fall of 2019.


STEM Careers and Technological Change

David J. Deming,  Professor of Economics and Education at Harvard University
Friday April 26th 2019, 12:00-1:30 PM 
LDCC (Rm 302), Ruffner Hall
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Co-sponsored by the Curry Research Lectureship Series, the Batten School Research Speaker Series, and the Department of Economics

Bio: David Deming is a Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Director of the Harvard Inequality and Social Policy Program, and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His research focuses broadly on the economics of skill development, education and labor markets. He is currently serving as a coeditor at the AEJ: Applied, and is a Principal Investigator (along with Raj Chetty and John Friedman) at the CLIMB Initiative, an organization that seeks to study and improve the role of higher education in social mobility. He recently won the David N. Kershaw Prize, which is awarded biannually to scholars who have made distinguished contributions to the field of public policy and management under the age of 40.

Abstract: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) jobs are a key contributor to economic growth and national competitiveness. Yet STEM workers are perceived to be in short supply. This paper shows that the “STEM shortage” phenomenon is explained by technological change, which introduces new job tasks and makes old ones obsolete. We find that the initially high economic return to applied STEM degrees declines by more than 50 percent in the first decade of working life. This coincides with a rapid exit of college graduates from STEM occupations. Using detailed job vacancy data, we show that STEM jobs changed especially quickly over the last decade, leading to flatter age-earnings profiles as the skills of older cohorts became obsolete. Our findings highlight the importance of technology-specific skills in explaining life-cycle returns to education, and show that STEM jobs are the leading edge of technology diffusion in the labor market.