Renewing Our Cities
By Bartley R. Danielsen, David M. Harrison, Jing Zhao
Urban economic development resources are often focused on bringing jobs and affordable housing to downtown areas. In contrast, there has been very little consideration given to how public charter schools and private school choice programs might act as economic development catalysts. This study examines relocation decisions made by families whose children are enrolled in a successful arts-intensive urban public charter school in the formerly blighted downtown area of Santa Ana, California.
In this report, you will learn:
Enrollment in a school of choice helped to anchor nearby families in the community.Families who lived near the school were less likely to relocate than families whose children had longer commutes to school. Apparently, children’s commute times are a factor in whether families move. Moreover, if families choose to relocate, they are a factor in where families decide to move.
Despite the lack of an attendance boundary, the school also attracted new families and residents to the area.The magnitude of a school’s attractive power on families can be expressed by a statistical measure called the “concentration parameter,” which measures families’ propensity to move toward the school. When there is no attraction exerted, the concentration parameter equals zero, but in this case, the concentration parameter was 0.6184, a level of attraction very similar to that previously found for parent workplaces.
Families are eager to move closer to the school and are reluctant to move away.For the 1,217 families who did move during the period studied, their moves were strongly biased toward the school. Students who moved toward the school moved five times as far as students who moved farther away from the school.
Attraction to the school is particularly strong for families enrolling children in the ninth grade.The school enrolls students in seventh through 12th grades. However, the school’s attractive properties differ depending upon the grade in which the child was admitted. The concentration parameter—the measure for attractive power—was 0.577 for seventh graders, 0.603 for eighth graders, 0.796 for ninth graders, 0.55 for 10th graders, 0.554 for 11th graders and 0.493 for 12th graders.