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J. Celeste Lay

Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Political Science, Tulane University of Louisiana

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About J. Celeste

Lay studies political socialization, voting behavior and education policy in the United States. Within political science, her recent work has examined the reactions of natives, including adolescents, to immigration in small communities, as well as how gender differences vary across places with regard to socialization and voting in local elections. Her public policy interests focus on the New Orleans education system in particular and education issues more broadly. At Tulane University, she also created and directs the Summer Minor Program in U.S. Public Policy.

In the News

Quoted by Emmanuel Felton in "New Orleans Argues Whether an All-Charter City Can be Truly Democratic," The Nation, May 21, 2019.
Research discussed by Zoe Sullivan, in "The Battle for New Orleans Public Schools," Next City, January 24, 2019.
Guest on Wisconsin Public Radio, June 15, 2017.
Quoted by Mary Cross in "Clinton and Trump Proposals Scrutinized," Tulane University News, October 28, 2016.
Quoted by Mary Ann Travis in "Female Presidential Nominee a Long Time Coming," Tulane News, July 22, 2016.
Quoted by Doug Johnson Hatlem in "Hillary Clinton vs Bernie Sanders: In-depth Report on Exit Polling and Election Fraud Allegations," Counter Punch, May 11, 2016.
Opinion: "Wide Disparity in Outreach Efforts in New Orleans Schools," J. Celeste Lay (with Alison Reip), The Advocate, April 20, 2016.
Opinion: "When It Comes to New Orleans Schools, Who is Making the Choices?," J. Celeste Lay, The Conversation, August 25, 2015.
Opinion: "Charter Experiment in New Orleans a Failure," J. Celeste Lay, The New Orleans Advocate, June 11, 2014.
Quoted by Danielle Schlanger in "Louisiana’s Woman Problem: State Ranks Dead Last in Female Representation," Huffington Post, June 27, 2013.
Quoted by Alex Gecan in "The Anti-Party: Occupy NOLA Marches on Duncan Plaza,", October 7, 2011.
Interviewed in "New Orleans Mayoral Election," PBS Now, May 19, 2006.


"A Midwestern Mosaic: Immigration and Political Socialization in Rural America" (Temple University Press, 2012).
Examines the influence of Latino immigration on the native youth and adults in rural Iowa. This is a balanced and locally-informed view of the realities of people effectively dealing with social change.
"Put to the Test: Understanding Differences in Support for High-Stakes Testing" (with Atiya Kai Stokes-Brown). American Politics Research 37, no. 3 (2009): 429-228.
Demonstrates that due to different experiences with and expectations of the education system, Latinos, African Americans and Whites have different levels of support for high-stakes testing in K-12 education.
"Smaller Isn’t Always Better: School Size and Participation among Young People" Social Science Quarterly 88, no. 3 (2007): 790-815.

Shows that in spite of claims about the effectiveness of small schools in encouraging involvement, there is limited evidence that they are associated with adolescents’ levels of school participation or volunteerism.

"Learning about Politics in Low Income Communities: Poverty and Political Knowledge" American Politics Research 34, no. 3 (2006): 319-340.

Shows that the paradox of high rural civic participation in spite of high levels of poverty is due largely to the nature of social interaction within smaller towns. Political discussion has positive effects on political knowledge in rural areas, but is negatively associated with knowledge in urban areas.