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Kirsten Slungaard Mumma

Kirsten Slungaard Mumma.
Most public schools have a library, but little is known about their quality or content. I collect original data on hundreds of titles in over 6,600 school libraries to identify patterns in resources and content. Three main findings emerge. First, gaps in library resources/quality exist, especially between schools in low- and high-income areas. Second, although books with “controversial content” are widely available, their prevalence is related to local politics and social environments. Libraries in conservative areas are less likely to have books with LGBTQ+, race/racism, or abortion content and more likely to have discontinued Dr. Seuss and Christian fiction titles. Third, book challenges in the 2021-22 school year have had “chilling effects” on the acquisition of new LGBTQ+ content.

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Blake Heller, Kirsten Slungaard Mumma.

While current debates center on whether and how to admit immigrants to the United States, little attention has been paid to interventions designed to help immigrants integrate after they arrive. Public adult education programs are the primary policy lever for building the language skills of the over 23 million adults with limited English proficiency in the United States. We leverage the enrollment lottery of a publicly-funded adult English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program in Massachusetts to estimate the effects of English language training on voting behavior and employer-reported earnings. Attending ESOL classes more than doubles rates of voter registration and increases annual earnings by $2,400 (56%). We estimate that increased tax revenue from earnings gains fully pay for program costs over time, generating a 6% annual return for taxpayers. Our results demonstrate the social value of post-migration investments in the human capital of adult immigrants.

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