Leah L. Gillion *19

Education, Political Ideology, and Academic Outcomes
Email Address: 
lgillion@princeton.edu

Leah L. Gillion is a PhD candidate at Princeton University in the department of sociology and demography and a predoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in sociology and the populations study center. Her research interests focus on race and ethnicity, social inequality, education, and public policy. Leah’s current project, "Assessing Ideologies, Spatial Polity, and Politics on Education” examines how societal inequality affects educational inequality. More specifically, the work argues that the ideological landscape of school districts as well as the political leanings of educators can unknowingly bias racial and ethnic minority students and perpetuate educational inequality in America. The dissertation includes original and secondary data and reveals that societal inequality in the form of racial bias, spatial inequality, and political ideology differences seep into the classroom to affect student outcomes. At the micro level, educators are predisposed to racial biases based on their political ideological leanings. At the macro level voter preferences at the school district level affect minority students’ educational outcomes, such as AP course taking, enrolling in gifted and talented programs, and punitive discipline rates. Finally, the geographical shape of school districts reveal invisible lines of inequality. Prior to beginning her PhD program, Leah earned a B.S. from Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University and an M.A. from the University of Rochester. She also taught high school math in urban districts in New York and Pennsylvania for seven years.