Public Schools, Public Housing: The Education of Children Living in Public Housing
In the United States, public housing developments are predominantly located in neighborhoods with low median incomes, high rates of poverty and disproportionate concentrations of minorities. While research consistently shows that public housing developments are located in economically and socially disadvantaged neighborhoods, we know little about the characteristics of the schools serving students living in public housing. In this paper, we examine the characteristics of elementary and middle schools attended by students living in public housing developments in New York City. Using the proportion of public housing students attending each elementary and middle school as our weight, we calculate the weighted average of school characteristics to describe the typical school attended by students living in public housing. We then compare these characteristics to those of the typical school attended by other students throughout the city in an effort to assess whether students living in public housing attend systematically different schools than other students. We find no large differences between the resources of the schools attended by students living in public housing and the schools attended by their peers living elsewhere in the city; however we find significant differences in student characteristics and performance on standardized exams. These school differences, however, fail to fully explain the performance disparities amongst students. Our results point to a need for more nuanced analyses of the policies and practices in schools, as well as the outside-of-school factors that shape educational success, to identify and address the needs of students in public housing.