Research News

Posey-Maddox receives Spencer award to study black families’ suburban schooling experiences

April 05, 2017

UW-Madison’s Linn Posey-Maddox was recently awarded a grant from the Spencer Foundation to study black families’ schooling experiences in suburban America.

Posey-Maddox is an associate professor with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Policy Studies. She is a scholar of urban and suburban education -- with an emphasis on race, class and educational inequality –- and is the author of the 2014 book, “When Middle-Class Parents Choose Urban Schools: Class, Race, and the Challenge of Equity in Public Education (University of Chicago Press).”

Linn Posey-Maddox
UW-Madison's Linn Posey-Maddox is a scholar of urban
and suburban education with the School of Education's
Department of Educational Policy Studies.
With the Spencer Foundation support, as well backing from a UW-Madison Vilas Associate Award, Posey-Maddox in June will begin a project titled, “Black in the ‘Burbs: Community, Family, and Schooling in Suburbia.”

Posey-Maddox explains that although there is a recent shift of black families from major cities moving to the suburbs, there is relatively little research taking a look at black families’ schooling experiences in suburbia.

Posey-Maddox notes that the few studies examining this topic suggest that black students and their families face opportunity gaps, racial microaggressions and exclusion in suburban schools -- which challenges the notion of these places as “good” schools.

In the grant proposal, Posey-Maddox writes: “The proposed research examines Black parents’ experiences and engagement in two distinct suburban communities — one mostly White, one mostly Black — to understand how broader social inequalities linked to race, class, and residence are reinforced and/or reduced in local suburban contexts. Using comparative case study methods, the research will examine (a) how Black mothers and fathers understand and experience life in the suburban communities, (b) how parents engage in their children’s education, and (c) the influence of race, social class, gender, and place in their experiences and relationships with school actors.”

Posey-Maddox plans to use the results of this research to inform a book manuscript she is working on that could one day contribute to parent-engagement literature and influence school policy by shedding important light on the heterogeneity of black families and their experiences within and across suburban communities.