2009 volume 41(5) pages 1109 – 1128
doi:10.1068/a4128

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Ledwith V, 2009, "Open enrolment and student sorting in public schools: evidence from Los Angeles County" Environment and Planning A 41(5) 1109 – 1128

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Open enrolment and student sorting in public schools: evidence from Los Angeles County

Valerie Ledwith

Received 17 January 2008; in revised form 27 February 2008; published online 16 February 2009

Abstract. I examine the relationship between student mobility associated with open enrolment and student sorting in public schools in Los Angeles County and find that open enrolment provides Latino students who attend outside their neighbourhoods access to higher quality, more integrated, schools than those who remain enroled in their neighbourhood schools. However, attendance at majority-white schools continues to be highly segregated. Therefore, while open enrolment may provide some minority students with the opportunity to avoid attending a majority-minority school, it does not undo the mechanisms through which white students remain socially and spatially segregated from their minority counterparts. The lack of meaningful interracial and cross-cultural exchange during the school-age years is a worrying trend that could lead to increased polarization and social exclusion in Los Angeles and other multiethnic cities and communities.

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