Effects of residential segregation: American schools racially divided across districts

A new sociological study finds more of the racial and ethnic variation in American education takes place across school districts:

Nearly 60 years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that ordered school districts to desegregate, schools seem to be trending back toward their segregated pasts. In the 1968-69 school year, when the U.S. Department of Education started to enforce Brown, about 77 percent of black students and 55 percent of Latino students attended public schools that were more than half-minority. By the 2009-2010 school year, the picture wasn’t much better for black students, and it was far worse for Latinos: 74 percent of black students and 80 percent of Latino students went to schools that were more than half-minority. More than 40 percent of black and Latino students attended schools that were 90 percent to 100 percent minority…

Whites are nearly a minority in the U.S. population under the age of five, and Census projections predict that by 2043, whites will no longer be the majority of the U.S. population overall. “There’s going to be fewer whites in minority schools because there are fewer whites in the population,” said Fiel.

Another part of the problem is with desegregation policies themselves. At the time of the Brown decision, schools in the same district were vastly unequal to one another, so efforts went toward integrating schools within each district. That made sense to combat segregation as it existed at the time.

Today, though…”The biggest barrier to reducing racial isolation…is racial imbalance between school districts in the same metropolitan area/nonmetropolitan county,” Fiel wrote in his American Sociological Review article.

In other words, where people can live, typically determined by wealth and income which are related to education and race and ethnicity, helps determines the differential outcomes of school districts. If residential segregation is common – and it is in many metropolitan areas in the United States – then we shouldn’t be surprised that other outcomes are unequal.

Ph.D. degrees are pretty rare, The Five-Year Engagement notwithstanding

In the movie The Five-Year Engagement, one of the main characters has a post-doc at the University of Michigan in social psychology. I wondered how many people know what a post-doc is and this pushed me to think more broadly: just how common is a Ph.D. in the United States? According to the 2012 Statistical Abstract, there were 49,562 PhDs awarded in 2009, up from 42,437 in 1996. According to the National Science Foundation, here are some additional figures on the number of doctorates awarded:

-In the first year of their data, 1957, there were 8,611 PhDs awarded.

-The greatest years of PhD growth (measured by % change from previous year) were clearly in the 1960s with peaks of 14.1% in 1965 and 14.6% in 1970.

-There were 48,069 doctorates awarded in 2010.

(Unfortunately, these tables do not break down how many doctoral students graduated with degrees/concentrations in social psychology.)

Census figures from 2010 say 27.9% of Americans have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Figures from 2011 show that 7.95% of Americans have a master’s degree and 3% have a doctorate or professional degree.

All this suggests that PhDs are relatively rare in the United States meaning that many Americans may not be able to relate to this story (plus, how many movies or TV shows focus on academia?). However, the movie is set in San Francisco and Ann Arbor: 51.2% of residents in San Francisco have a bachelor’s degree or higher (with a California state figure of 30.1%) and 19.7% of residents have a graduate or professional degree (ACS estimates). In the college town of Ann Arbor, 71.1% of residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher (with a Michigan state figure of 25%) and 42% have a graduate or professional degree (ACS estimates).

So is Judd Apatow aiming for a more educated audience with his latest film?

Argument: Tebow actually now in more religious yet less Christian city

Since Tim Tebow was traded from the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets, a number of commentators have suggested that Tebow was headed for the secular or even “heathen” city. However, some statistics suggest that the New York City region is more religious than the national as a whole though it is less conservative Protestant:

While New York has a reputation for godlessness, both city and state actually have higher rates of membership in organized religion than the country as a whole. In 2000, the proportion of state residents who belonged to some religious body was 76 percent — compared with 61 percent in the United States as a whole — according to an analysis by Queens College sociologist Andrew Beveridge. Even higher numbers specifically for the tristate region put it in the top 9 percent of urban areas in terms of religiosity, ahead of Salt Lake City and Little Rock.

Still, those who raised their eyebrows about Tebow’s arrival had a point. While New York is very religious, it isn’t religious in Tebow’s way: conservative Protestant. The state has proportionally far more Jews and Catholics than the rest of the country. The percentage of Muslims is only 2 percent — but that’s double the figure in America at large. In contrast, while the national proportion of conservative Protestants is 28 percent, the state population is 5 percent.

So it may not be Tebow’s being religious that raises eyebrows. Rather, it could be conservative Protestantism’s tendency to involve public proclamation. New Yorkers believe just as much, but they are less likely to talk about it openly.

It will be fascinating to see what happens. While the New York City region may be familiar with religion, it is a different mix of religions compared to other places.

The measure of belonging to a religious body could be telling – is this less about religious beliefs and practices and more about the social activity of being a member of a religious congregation or institution? If so, I wonder if this is tied to education levels. Several recent studies suggest that attending church is more common among those with higher levels of education. Other studies suggest that religion is not uncommon or unknown among professors and scientists.

The educational level of immigrants in America

A new report suggests that there are more immigrants with college degrees than immigrants without high school diplomas:

“There’s more high-skilled (immigrants) than people believe,” said Audrey Singer, senior fellow with the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution and co-author of the report, which contends that the economic contribution of immigrants has been overshadowed by the rancorous debate over illegal immigration.

Singer and Matthew Hall, a sociologist at the University of Illinois-Chicago, analyzed census data for the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas and found that 30 percent of working-age immigrants had at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 28 percent who lack a high school diploma.

The article suggests that the report is intended to influence the national immigration debate, presumably by suggesting that many immigrants are an asset to the country.

But it would be helpful here to compare these figures for immigrants to the statistics for American adults overall to know whether these figures are impressive or not. Here are the 2010 educational attainment figures for Americans 18 and older of all races: 27.28% have a bachelor’s degree or higher while 13.71% have less than a high school degree. It looks like the figures for immigrants are more polarized compared to the general population with a higher percentage, about 2-3% more, having a college degree while a much higher percentage, about double, having less than a high school diploma. (Figures for Americans 25 and older change a little: 29.93% have a college degree or greater while 12.86% have less than a high school degree.)

The value, then, in the figures about immigrants are probably in the field of public perceptions, particularly the statistic of immigrants with a college degree which matches up well with comparisons to Americans 18+ and 25+ years old.

(The article doesn’t address this and I don’t know if the report does either: does it matter that the figures for immigrants are drawn from the 100 largest metropolitan areas? Would the figures be different if looking at all immigrants?)