The Shape of Educational Equity: Using GIS to Explore the Intersections of Space, Race, and School Choice

The Shape of Educational Equity: Using GIS to Explore the Intersections of Space, Race, and School Choice

Elizabeth A. Gilblom (North Dakota State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7379-2.ch008
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This chapter provides an overview of the benefits of utilizing geographic information systems (GIS) to explore the intersections of school choice policy, educational equity, space, and race. The author discusses the theory of racial space, a framework for understanding the complex interactions between spatial processes and race. Additionally, the author offers an overview of GIS functionality and discusses research that incorporates GIS as a tool to examine the role of charter schools in shaping educational opportunities and outcomes across neighborhoods, cities, and states. Finally, this chapter will introduce emerging research areas and interdisciplinary research approaches, including advanced geospatial techniques, used to examine the intersections of geography and educational equity.
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Geographic Information Systems

A geographic information system (GIS) is a database system that can bring together, store, analyze, and present geographically-referenced data on a map or in a table in real time. Geographically referenced data, or geospatial information, is any data referencing a specific place and it can include location, distance and relative position on the Earth’s surface. Geospatial information includes features like the Grand Canyon, the Washington Monument, bike paths, school district boundaries and stop signs. Each feature listed here has associated data and, in GIS terminology, that information is an attribute. Attributes of the Grand Canyon include its length, depth and its widest point. Attributes of a school district boundary include the total enrollment, the racial and socioeconomic characteristics of the students, and the number of teachers employed by the district.

GIS has the ability to combine and display geospatial information on maps that highlight local relationships, patterns and trends. Fundamentally, maps are collections of layers, with each layer representing an attribute. For example, a bike trail map may have layers for trails, walking paths, and other amenities like restrooms or water fountains. Together, these layers produce a complete illustration of the space a cyclist will encounter in real life.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Visual Inspection: The process of looking at a map to find patterns.

Geospatial Information: The identifying geographic information of natural and manmade objects on the Earth’s surface.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS): A software program that visualizes and analyzes geographic data.

Attribute: Descriptive information about the features on a map, such as the demographics of a neighborhood.

Layer: A specific data variable that is overlaid on a map. Maps are made of layers, each representing a specific variable in a dataset.

Hot Spot Map: A map that shows areas with a higher concentration of a variable.

Graduated Color Map: A map of a geographic area that uses colors to visualize differences for a variable.

Census Tract: A geographic region about the size of a neighborhood that is designed for taking the census.

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