Bailey Brown

Columbia University

Bailey Brown is a doctoral candidate in Sociology, a Paul F. Lazarsfeld Fellow and a Ford Foundation Fellow. She received her undergraduate degree in Sociology (​Cum Laude) from the University of Pennsylvania with minors in urban education and Africana studies. Bailey studies urban sociology, social stratification/inequality, race/ethnicity and education inequality and policy.

Dissertation Title: Parent Behavior and School Choice

Dissertation Abstract: Over the last 20 years, public school choice programs have substantially increased across the nation ​and have become one of the most contested topics within education discourse. This rise has had the largest impact on urban districts, disrupting the link between home address and school assignment for many students. Her dissertation interrogates how parents make sense of school choice open enrollment plans. She uses high-quality data and multiple methodological approaches to demonstrate how parents navigate open enrollment systems. Specifically, she draws on 100 semi-structured interviews, descriptive surveys, GIS data, and ethnographic observations at school district meetings from the largest urban school district in the nation, New York City. She analyzes the individual and neighborhood-level processes that shape how parents make educational decisions for their elementary-aged children and develop three major contributions. First, she analyzes how parents’ social networks and framing of the school search process shape school decisions and enrollment outcomes. Second, she evaluates how the uncertainty of school choice systems can shape the emotional labor of parenting. Third, she examines school choice at the neighborhood level in two ways. She investigates parents’ spatial relationships across neighborhoods and schools to assess how geography shapes school decision-making. She also interprets counter-choice discourse at school district meetings to assess how policy rhetoric shapes school decision-making. Through these contributions, she provides a theoretical, analytical, and policy-relevant lens for examining school choice from the perspective of parents.