Jennifer Jennings

Institution: Princeton University


Jason Fontana, Jennifer L. Jennings.

Does state implementation of Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), which are voucher-like taxpayer-funded subsidies for children to attend private schools, increase tuition prices? We analyze a novel longitudinal dataset for all private schools in Iowa and Nebraska, neighboring states that adopted ESAs in the same legislative session, with Iowa’s implementation beginning first. By leveraging state and grade-level variation in eligibility, we provide new causal evidence that ESAs led Iowa private schools to increase tuition. Increases varied by the percentage of the grade eligible for ESAs. When eligibility was universal (kindergarten), private schools increased prices 21-25%, compared with 10-16% in grades with partial eligibility. In contrast, private schools did not increase tuition in pre-K, which was ineligible for ESAs. If a goal of ESAs is to extend private school access to new families, the substantial tuition increases they produce may limit access.

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Manuel Alcaino, Jennifer. L. Jennings .

We investigate the determinants and consequences of increased school choice by analyzing a 22-year school panel matched to county-level demographic, economic, and political data.  Using an event-study design exploiting the precise timing of charter school enrollment change, we provide robust evidence that charter enrollment growth increases racial and especially socioeconomic school segregation, a finding that is partially explained by non-poor students’ transition from the private to public sector. Charter growth drives public sector incorporation, while also increasing within-public sector segregation. To assess the effects of disparate choice policies on segregation, we replicate this analysis for magnet schools, which have admissions practices intended to increase diversity, and find no evidence that magnet enrollment growth increases segregation.

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Scott Latham, Sean P. Corcoran, Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj, Jennifer L. Jennings.

New York City’s universal pre-kindergarten program, which increased full-day enrollment from 19,000 to almost 70,000 children, is ambitious in both scale and implementation speed. We provide new evidence on the distribution of pre-K quality in NYC by student race/ethnicity, and investigate the extent to which observed differences are associated with the spatial distribution of higher-quality providers. Relative to other jurisdictions, we find the average quality of public pre-K providers is high. However, we identify large disparities in the average quality of providers experienced by black and white students, which is partially explained by differential proximity to higher-quality providers. Taken together, current racial disparities in the quality of pre-K providers may limit the program’s ability to reduce racial achievement gaps.

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