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Immigrant Gateway Type and Impacts on Schools and Students: Evidence from Florida Open Access

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Immigrant Gateway Type and Impacts on High Schools and Students: Evidence from FloridaOver the past several decades the number of foreign born persons and English Language Learner (ELL) students in public schools in the United States has risen dramatically. Many foreign born persons now entering the U.S. are also settling in very different locations than the traditional ports of entry common in the past. These emerging immigrant gateways, such as Washington D.C., Atlanta, and Orlando had very low immigrant populations up until about 1970, and have experienced large growth since then. On the other hand, established immigrant gateways, such as New York City and Miami, have had a large and steady immigrant flow since at least 1950. Some have expressed concern that schools in these newer immigrant communities are unprepared for the large immigrant growth, and that immigrants in these communities will suffer from limited resources, more discrimination, and poorer relative academic achievement in comparison to native born peers. Yet there is relatively little research on how emerging immigrant communities are faring in comparison to established gateways, especially with respect to the educational experiences of the immigrant children and their native-born peers. My dissertation aims to fill this gap in the literature. Using administrative data from Florida public high schools from 2000-2005, this dissertation compares established to emerging immigrant gateways focusing on the following three research questions: (1) Are school resources allocated to or away from immigrant students? (2) Does "native flight" occur when immigrants enroll in schools? and (3) Do immigrant students test higher or lower than their native born peers on academic achievement exams? Taken together, the results from this analysis suggest that, despite some concerns, schools and immigrant students in emerging gateways are not unilaterally faring worse than schools and immigrant students in established gateways and results are mixed. First, some school resources are more favorable to the foreign-born in established gateways than in emerging gateways. For instance, in established gateways, schools with increasing shares of immigrants see increases in per-pupil expenditures for exceptional students and increases in the share of staff serving in an instructional capacity. In emerging gateways, schools with increasing immigrant shares experience declines in expenditures for regular and exceptional students, as well as declines in the share of staff serving in a support capacity. Second, I find no evidence of "native flight" in response to the foreign born in emerging gateways and some modest evidence of "native flight" in established gateways. Specifically, in established gateways, white native born students are sorting away from schools with increasing numbers of foreign born black and foreign born Asian/other students. Black native born students are sorting away from schools with increasing numbers of foreign born Asian/other students. Hispanic native born students are sorting away from schools with increasing numbers of foreign born white students. Third, immigrant student performance varies according to gateway type, but there is not a straightforward relationship between the type of gateway community and whether immigrants out- or under-perform native-born students.

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