Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 36, Issue 6, pp 805–832 | Cite as

Neighborhood Priority or Desegregation Plans? A Spatial Analysis of Voting on San Francisco’s Student Assignment System

  • Lorien Rice
  • Mark Henderson
  • Margaret Hunter
Original Research


In 2011, San Francisco held an unprecedented citywide vote on its public schools’ student assignment policy. Proposition H provides a unique opportunity to learn more about the public’s desire for “neighborhood schools,” as compared to their interest in maintaining districtwide desegregation efforts. This paper takes the approach of applying geographic information system tools and regression analysis to understand the relationships between neighborhood, race, income, and attitudes toward student assignment systems. By comparing the election results with demographics and school quality data, we identify patterns of support for the narrowly defeated proposition. Support for a shift toward neighborhood-based schools was higher in census tracts with high-performing schools, more school age children, high median income, or a large fraction of foreign-born residents, and lower in tracts with a high percentage of Latinos. The shifting race- and class-based politics of the city foreshadow expected demographic shifts in the US.


Educational equity Segregation Student assignment policies School choice 



This project was supported by a Holmgren Faculty Development Grant at Mills College. The authors gratefully acknowledge the contributions of graduate student researchers Rachel Trusty and Caitlin Palmer and summer research assistants Elizabeth Welsh, Jodessa Lanzaderas, and Toni Gomez. Myong Leigh, Orla O’Keefe, Ingrid Seyer-Ochi, and Eirik Evenhouse provided helpful comments on earlier versions of the paper.

Supplementary material

11113_2017_9435_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (52 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 52 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsMills CollegeOaklandUSA
  2. 2.Public Policy ProgramMills CollegeOaklandUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyMills CollegeOaklandUSA

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