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Sociology

Respecting Our Elders: Examining Accessibility to Senior Centers in Los Angeles County

Danielle Aviva Bernstein ('08), Jill Grigsby

For seniors who may no longer be able to drive, accessibility is an important issue, particularly in a city like Los Angeles where public transportation is lacking. The purpose of this project is to map the location of senior centers across Los Angeles County and assess their accessibility for communities of people of color and low-income communities. Using data from the Los Angeles County Commission on Aging and the 2000 U.S. Census, I map the location of senior centers in Los Angeles County with data showing the distribution of income and various racial and ethnic groups. I also include data on the various services offered by senior centers and examine whether or not various communities have access to the same services. This study examines how well the diverse region of Los Angeles County is serving and supporting its aging population.

Educating the Academic Elite in Systems of Inequality: The Hidden Curriculum of Academic Programs

Laura Elise Enriquez ('08), Sandra Hamada ('09), Jenniffer Rojas ('09), Gilda Ochoa

Though education is often viewed as a means for social advancement, scholarship demonstrates that the US educational system socializes youth to the inequalities of American society. Using a Southern California High School as a microcosm of American society, I examine the ways in which socioeconomic inequalities are institutionalized and perpetuated by schools. As a research team, we conducted field observations, semi-structured interviews, and focus groups to understand how students, teachers, staff and parents frame students’ educational experiences. The preliminary work conducted this summer revealed that the school’s academic programs contributed to a (in)visible and complex social hierarchy. By focusing on the school’s International Baccalaureate program, a curriculum-track designed to present a challenging and well rounded education to high-achieving students, I explore how students are made aware of their positions as racialized, gendered, classed, sexualized, and educated selves. An analysis of the framing of the IB program and its students reveals a discourse in which students are referred to, and refer to themselves, as the “academic elite.” While academic programs such as the IB program can be beneficial in the resources and opportunities that they provide select students, they can also serve to perpetuate larger social hierarchies of inequality and (dis)privilege.
Funding provided by: SURP

Educational Inequality: What Educators, Families and Students Have Come to Believe

Sandra Elizabeth Hamada ('09), Jenniffer Rojas ('09), Laura Enriquez ('08), Gilda L. Ochoa

Collectively, 83% of Asian Americans graduated from high school in California compared to only 60% of Latina/os in 2002. The purpose of this study is to understand the perspectives of students, parents, faculty and teachers and how they explain this educational achievement gap between Asian Americans and Latina/o students. By listening to how they describe the gap, we can examine the similarities and contradictions that they share in a broader social structure so that schools can bridge the gap. Using a critical ethnographic method, we conducted observations and in-depth interviews at a Southern California suburban public school, whose demographics allow for inter-racial diversity to examine the intersections of race, class, gender, and generation. At this stage, preliminary findings suggest that participants have various explanations for achievement including family responsibility, ethnic values, and socioeconomic status. However, it demonstrate that schools, families and students have different understandings of the gap and fail to recognize how larger structures and the intersectionality of identity play a role in educational achievement. Understanding these perspectives can help to work towards deconstructing educational stereotypes held by faculty and teachers, decrease racial tension between students and work towards equal educational opportunity for students of color.
Funding provided by: Hirsh Foundation (GO)

Educational Aspiration and Expectations Among Latino High School Students

Jordan E. Pedraza ('09), Krista M. Perreira*
*Department of Public Policy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

Due to the nascent nature of North Carolina as a receiving immigrant community, the current influx of immigrant Hispanic children has a significant impact on the educational system. The main objective of this study examines the relationship between adolescent Latino/as’ perception of school climate and their academic aspirations and expectations. Our analysis uses both in-depth interview and survey data from the Southern Immigrant Academic Adaptation study, a study of 239 adolescent Latinos enrolled in North Carolina high schools. We hypothesize that perceived school climate and likelihood of discrimination among Latino youth differs by gender, language use, family structure in the home, generational status, ethnic identity, parent’s education, and academic encouragement from parents. In addition, we expect that a perception of positive school climate and low likelihood of discrimination will associate with higher academic goals and expectations for these youth. Our bivariate analyses illustrate that students who have frequent parent encouragement, perceive a better school climate and a low likelihood of discrimination have higher academic aspirations and expectations. Our ordered logit estimations demonstrate that students who perceive a high or moderate likelihood of discrimination are 60% less likely to have higher academic aspirations [OR .40 95% CI .20, 1.10].
Funding provided by: Russell Sage Foundation; NSF (#SES-0548858 - JEP)

Residential Segregation by Educational Attainment and Race: Chicago and Los Angeles

Gladys Esther Reyes ('09), Jill Grigsby

This research examines residential segregation patterns by educational attainment in two of the most populous metropolitan areas of the country -- Chicago and Los Angeles. Previous research mainly explains racial segregation in economic terms and emphasizes Black-White segregation, however, with the diversification of the population in the United States, recent segregation research has expanded to include other groups. Using data from the 2000 U.S. Census on educational attainment by race and Hispanic origin for the population ages 25 years and older, I calculated the dissimilarity index, which indicates how evenly groups are spread across census tracts. The overall findings of this analysis suggest that persons with less than a high school education are more residentially segregated in Los Angeles than in Chicago from the population that has attained a Bachelor’s degree or higher. When analyzing the results by race, African Americans and Latinos with less than a high school education are more segregated in Los Angeles than in Chicago, from the population who has earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Asian & Pacific Islanders and Non-Latino Whites with less than a high school education, however, are more segregated in Chicago than in Los Angeles.
Funding provided by: SURP

Educational Systems That Hinder Students Academic and Social Capital

Jenniffer Gabriela Rojas ('09), Sandra Hamada ('09), Laura Enriquez ('08), Gilda Ochoa

The classroom is alleged to be a neutral ground where all students regardless of ethnic-background, sexuality, socioeconomic class, and gender have the opportunity to be successful. However, literature shows that students' identities play an important role in a student's ability to achieve educational success. This summer, a qualitative study was conducted in a Southern California High School. The findings so far show a relationship between the student's ethnic-background, in particular between Latina/o and Asian- American students, and their success within the school. Overall there is a strong indication that a students' ethnic-background influences how they will be perceived by authority figures -school officials, teachers, and parents. Most authority figures are influenced by the stereotypes that plague Latina/o and Asian- American communities. Therefore, most Asian-Americans students are viewed as exceptional students where as most Latina/o students are viewed as under-achievers. These views led to tracking, where most Asian-Americans are placed in gifted programs and most Latinas/os are placed in regular classes. This lead to different outcomes of academic success and thus an educational gap emerges. Consequently, some of the students in these groups lack the ability to navigate through the educational system and ultimately enrich their academic as well as their social capital.
Funding provided by: SURP

Research at Pomona