In January, three Macalester students took their research projects from the classroom to the capitol. As part of a Day at the Capitol event (just four miles from campus), students from area colleges and universities—including Hannah Hoffman ’19, Margaret Hinson’19, and Khadidja Ngom ’19—had the chance to present research findings to community members.

Hannah Hoffman (environmental studies), “The Impact of Political Party Affiliation on Climate Change Policy Support”
Abstract: Despite the broad and deep consensus in the scientific community that climate change demands urgent action, the American public tends to view climate change as a far-off problem. This is particularly prevalent among conservative and/or Republican-identifying Americans, resulting in a partisan worry-gap. We have conducted several studies to examine the influence of political party affiliation on people’s response to climate change; and across our studies, we consistently find evidence for the partisan worry-gap. In the current study, we explored two questions. First: do self-identified Republicans and Democrats differ in their response to events that are explicitly labeled as “climate change” vs. events that are not explicitly climate-related? Second: If a political figure takes action on climate change, does political affiliation influence whether people think that action is valid or important? In the current study we found that, regardless of personal political affiliation, explicit mention of climate change resulted in lower support for climate-friendly policy. These findings suggest that the partisan worry-gap is only one element we must consider in building support for climate-friendly policy, for reluctance to take climate change seriously is a problem regardless of party affiliation.

Margaret Hinson (sociology), “The Unrecognized Role of Parental Incarceration on In-School Suspension Rates”
Abstract: Due to the rise of mass incarceration in the United States, a large number of children now have incarcerated parents. Scholars have devoted significant attention to the consequences of zero-tolerance discipline in schools that motivate the school-to-prison pipeline. But does that pipeline also flow in the other direction? While research shows an array of compounding disadvantages of parental incarceration that reverberate through children’s lives, little discussion has gone into how the incarceration of a parent might feedback to how students experience school discipline. My research addresses this gap analyzing a statewide Minnesota student survey to examine possible explanations for why students who experience parental incarceration also experience higher rates of in-school suspension. High in-school suspension rates persist through expected controls and intervention techniques, showing a unique effect of parental incarceration. Supplemental analysis through interviews with school administrators shows that they are unaware of the existence of this student population, let alone what their needs are. The invisibility of this population of students may stem from anticipated stigma, which would also motivate the punishable behavior indicated by the in-school suspension rate.

Khadidja Ngom (with St. Catherine University students Maakwe Cumanzala and Elizabeth Kula), “Gaming the System: Matching Mechanisms and Enrollment in a Large Midwestern School District”
Abstract: In districts with open enrollment, the assignment of students to schools is important for families and children’s well-being. We explore how economic matching mechanisms link consumers (students) to producers (schools) and study the implications for a large urban district. We find that, on average, 80 percent of students are matched to their firstchoice school. Of those students, an average of 74 percent enrolls at their matched first-choice school, suggesting room for improvement in parental satisfaction and retention. Further, we find the system is susceptible to well-informed parents’ strategic gaming. For example, even wanting a popular school, A, a parent might rank school B first to avoid “wasting” their choice. Parents concealing true preferences makes measuring the demand for schools impossible. Better data on parents’ preferences will enable the district to gauge interest in factors like travel time and programmatic offerings. Our study of matching mechanisms’ implications leads us to recommend the district switch to a strategy-proof mechanism.

March 12 2019

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