2021 Sentinels Fellows

2021 Sentinels Fellows’ names and report titles are listed below.  To read the abstract of each report, please click on the “+” to expand the content areas.

  • Samuel BrooksRising costs of living in Colorado have prompted some municipal and county policymakers to pursue inclusionary zoning policies, which tie a developer’s ability to build new housing units to the production of affordable housing. With the Colorado State Assembly's recent expansion of local governments' powers to enact these policies, it is likely that their usage will continue to grow.  Through interviews with different housing experts across the state, I have identified and cataloged the existing inclusionary policies that local governments have already enacted. I then used Census and American Community Survey data to evaluate the effectiveness of a few of the oldest inclusionary policies in the state. I highlight the necessary precondition of underlying development for inclusionary policies to be successful. Finally, I consider jurisdictions that currently have or soon may implement inclusionary policies that may be ineffective due to a lack of new development, such as the City of Denver and Glenwood Springs, and then briefly consider other jurisdictions where inclusionary policies would likely be effective at increasing the affordable housing supply if they were implemented.

  • Adeline ChoiSince January 2020, the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been a notable surge in the number of hate crime cases and reports of microaggression towards people of Asian descent (Schild, Blackburn, Stringhini, Zhang, & Zannettou, 2020). The interpersonal, cultural, and institutional discrimination against the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (hereafter, AAPI), however, can be reflected not only through the recent notable rise in Anti-Asian sentiment but also throughout American history. One immediately critical problem involves the AAPI medical patients with limited English proficiency reporting medication complications at higher rates and less satisfaction with clinician communication and their health care overall compared to their White counterparts (Green et al., 2005). The inaccessibility to public healthcare and translator services, or lack thereof, is caused by numerous factors, such as systemic racism, accumulated encounters of microaggression and/or interpersonal discrimination over time, internalized racialism resulting from Model Minority stereotypes, and AAPIs' cultural tendency to direct the blame of discrimination to themselves rather than outwardly. All constituents of and contributors to society deserve equal care and attention, especially when in regard to medical care, which is shown to be unsuccessful for marginalized community members, notably the AAPIs. This paper provides insight into the ways in which health care policymakers should respond to both the contiuating and newly exacerbating discrimination, with a speicifc focus on the assessment of accessibility and inclusivity of AAPI’s cultural values within American public policies.

  • Clarissa DominguezIn 2015, the Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and the members of the Los Angeles City Council declared a state of emergency concerning the growing rates of homelessness. At that time, Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority’s Homeless Count found that there were 25,686 unhoused Angelenos on any given night. Now, the latest count from 2020 found that there 41,290 unhoused Angelenos. Given the growing rates of homelessness and the novel coronavirus, the mass eviction of the Echo Park community by their Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell on March 24, 2021, provides a window into the current contradictory treatment of the unhoused community and the constant balancing between the rights of the unhoused and housed, especially regarding public spaces. This report provides an exposition of mostly City policies towards the unhoused community regarding the construction of interim and permanent housing, hygiene services, sanitation, and outreach teams from the years 2015- present. I present insight into the progress and setbacks the City of Los Angeles has faced in light of the novel coronavirus. My main findings are that the decompression of congregate shelters, the continued failed practice of criminalization through enforcement of Los Angeles Municipal Codes, and the overall lack of housing units continue to challenge the City of Los Angeles' progress towards reducing homelessness to functionally zero. The City of Los Angeles must continue to produce legislation to prevent the inflow into homelessness as well as demonstrate to the unhoused community and its allies that it will stop the criminalization of homelessness and poverty via the relaxation of Los Angeles Municipal Codes and follow Councilmember Bonin’s Venice’s Encampment to Home model towards other unhoused communities throughout the City.

  • Federal and state governments forgo substantial tax revenues for the sake of the itemized deduction for charitable contributions, which makes most donations tax-free. This policy aims to increase the amount of such donations by lowering their effective price. If a taxpayer takes this deduction, for every dollar donated to charity, their tax bill is reduced. This means that donating a dollar does not cost a dollar, but a dollar less the taxpayer's tax rate. Economic literature suggests that charitable contributions do respond to changes in this "tax price" of giving, and that giving goes up when the tax price decreases. This report focuses on the downstream effects of this response with respect to volunteering activity. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a high-quality longitudinal survey of American individuals with a focus on low-income households, it finds that when the tax price of donating money to charity increases, people volunteer less. These findings are of particular interest because the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act substantially increased the standard deduction, which will mean fewer taxpayers benefit from the subsidy on charitable donations. My report suggests that this change may mean a decrease not only in money contributions to charity, but a decrease in community volunteering rates. These findings add another dimension to any analysis of the TCJA or any policy that impacts the tax price of charitable donations.

  • Aliya KleinThis paper explores the persisting and widening achievement gap throughout the high schools in Montgomery County, Maryland. First, it examines previously gathered data on high schools in the county and then compares that data to present-day measures of achievement, demonstrating the extent to which lower poverty schools in the county outperform higher poverty schools. Then, it discusses the sources of funding MCPS high schools distribute and allocate to various school programs and academic resources in order to raise questions about the role of private funding versus public funding within the county. Finally, this report concludes that a partnership-based fundraising program between higher and lower poverty schools would supplement the county's efforts to distribute public funding and create equity such that more private funding and fundraising could play a role in improving the amount of resources provided for students in higher poverty high schools.

  • Connor MiddletonSince the 1970s, education equity in U.S. public schools has been a growing priority for parents, students, advocates, and policymakers, prompting a surge of lawsuits challenging the  constitutionality of inequitable and inadequate state education funding systems across the country. Interested researchers from an array of different disciplines have also turned their attention to the short and long-term changes in student achievement and other outcomes over the past few decades as a result of various legislature-initiated or court-ordered school finance reforms. As state and local governments finally finished their decade-long post-2008 recession recovery, the advent of COVID-19 has made the need to ensure equal opportunities for diverse student populations facing new rounds of education funding cutbacks even more dire.

    After extensively reviewing this literature from various fields and perspectives—economics, political science, history, law—I compiled an overview which highlights some of the challenges and promising takeaways that may inform and better equip future education finance equity initiatives. Part I of this report touches upon the magnitude of persistent school finance inequities by race and wealth, the relationship between spending and student outcomes, and the roots of inequality from disparities in local property tax revenues. Part II identifies different sources of school funding, types of court-ordered reform approaches, significant challenges and setbacks, and temporal trends which distinguish different reforms by period; this section provides valuable definitions and background, setting the stage for later analysis. Finally, Part III combines evaluations from both cross-state analyses and within-state case studies, concluding with a discussion of trends which may prove significant for the next wave of reform efforts.

  • Virginia OntiverosMy time as a Sentinels Summer Public Policy Fellow was spent crafting an annotated bibliography in preparation of my senior thesis in Political Science. I chose to investigate the application of gendered rehabilitation of women in reformatories during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the local and national discussion around their use. The United States criminal justice system experienced an blossoming era of reformation, notably for female prisoners, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in which Quakers and feminists established institutions that allowed female convicts to "relearn their womanhood" and reenter society. These practices eventually fell out of use as the progressive era came to an end. The dominant explanation for this trend is that political and economic support for this project waned. Previous research has primarily focused on the historical trajectory of this phenomenon, but there remains much to be found regarding the evolution from mainstream reformatory spirit to modern mass incarceration. I continue this project by studying the sequence of events that led to the demise of early 20th century women's reformatories, such as the Sherborn Reformatory for Women, that have been converted into standard prisons, namely the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Framingham. I will investigate how the offenses of female prisoners and political opinions on reformatories have changed over time. I hope to discover an explanation as to why institutions for rehabilitation ceased to exist after the 1930's. My aim is to use my findings to inform how the re-establishment of women’s reformatories may be executed more successfully in the 21st century.

  • Saud Afzal ShafiThis summer, I worked in collaboration with the Stockbridge-Munsee Historic Preservation Office in Williamstown. During the first seven weeks of my fellowship, I led a team of three fellows at the Center for Learning in Action (CLiA) to produce a video series of historic Mohican sites in Berkshire County and eastern New York State. The video series aims to serve as a virtual alternative to the usual in-person community homelands bus trips that currently cannot be conducted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the final three weeks of my fellowship, I analyzed the history and effectiveness of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), a law implemented in 1990 that requires institutions receiving federal funding to repatriate ancestral remains and other items in their possession belonging to Native American tribes.

    NAGPRA is a very important step towards helping Native American tribes restore the graves of their ancestors and recover the culturally significant items that were stolen from them. However, the law currently falls short on two major fronts: it does not require institutions to conduct consultations and repatriate items that have been deemed "culturally unidentifiable" and are not human remains; and it does not continuously require institutions to conduct reviews beyond the initial, often rushed, reviews that were done to meet the statutory deadline. In addition to changes in the law to address these problems, there needs to be a shift in the attitude of museums and collections towards collaboration with Native American tribes. These steps will help the aspirations of NAGPRA be more fully realized. Future researchers should also explore how the law can protect Native American graves from being disturbed in the future, how the criteria for eligibility under NAGPRA might be too limiting, and how CARES Act funding has expanded the range of institutions that have to comply with NAGPRA.

  • In the wake of the Warren Court's unprecedented expansion of civil rights at the federal level, the New Judicial Federalism of the 1970s, which found state supreme courts engaging actively in their own state-constitutional jurisprudence, supplemented the limited rights granted by the U.S. Constitution with additional rights granted by the constitutions of their respective states. One such court was the Supreme Court of Washington state. Known today for its diversity of membership, influence on other state courts, and boundary-pushing rulings, the court has continued to build on this state-constitutional tradition through the present day.

    I argue that expanding on the tradition of New Judicial Federalism, together with the weak electoral incentives faced by justices and the many veto points present in the Legislature, has allowed the Washington Supreme Court to become a high-impact arena for progressive policy advocates, notably in the areas of education and criminal justice reform. Specifically, two landmark cases from the previous decade — McCleary v. State and State v. Blake — demonstrate how the court can serve as a potent, if clumsy, workaround for moving reforms to the top of the Legislature's agenda. Calling upon interviews with legislators, media coverage of Washington politics, and judicial opinions, I illustrate how court decisions have circumvented legislative gridlock and forced action on progressive priorities. From providing a workable model for positive rights enforcement to making ambitious use of social-scientific research in its decisions, the current court represents not just a force for progressive policy outcomes and innovative jurisprudence within Washington, but a model of how state supreme courts can play a meaningful role in shaping public policy at the state level.