- LAST REVIEWED: 19 August 2020
- LAST MODIFIED: 15 December 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0033
- LAST REVIEWED: 19 August 2020
- LAST MODIFIED: 15 December 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0033
“School choice” refers to several distinct, school-based reform initiatives that have been legislatively implemented, divisible into the categories “voucher programs” and “charter schools.” As a concept, school choice is designed to redefine the role of the parent (and student) in public education by allowing parental choice of school rather than student placement through district school clustering and feeder programs. In this regard, school choice necessitates that school districts allocate a per-pupil amount of funding for the student to use for educational purposes; however, there are significant differences in how voucher funds are allocated versus those for charter schools. With a voucher program, the funds are of highest portability and the parent may choose to send his or her child to any public or private school. With the charter school program, per-pupil funds are still allocated to the student but are funneled through whichever charter school the parent chooses. Several concerns have been raised with both programs; the primary and most common one is that both choice programs will strip public school of its necessary funding mechanisms and are especially vocal with voucher fund usage in the private and parochial sector. Opponents of charter schools similarly claim that the charter schools are divesting the districts of critical revenue; however, under federal law all charter schools are public schools. While funding does move out of the control of the district to the charter school, it remains in the public sector. Advocates of both programs claim that per-pupil revenues are not commensurate with those that noncharter/voucher students receive and, as a result, are financially constrained from providing a high-quality educational program. Within the charter school program, this problem seems most acute as schools have to provide facility costs for their schools, which must come either from a percentage of the per-pupil funds or via philanthropic efforts. Additionally, in many states charter schools also face issues of limited enrollment criteria, inequality between state and local funding, onerous authorization processes, school caps, and reauthorization procedures.
This section considers school choice from the policy perspective, as one option within a host of education reform options. Lubienski, et al. 2009 provides an analysis of choice through the lens of organizational theory, while Viteritti 2010 considers the reform from the market-based perspective foisted by Milton Friedman. Issues of access across district demographics are discussed in Holme and Richards 2009, and Wilkins 2010 examines the effect of parental and community involvement as a choice level, relying specifically on the effect of maternal involvement. Lauen 2009 considers choice options through the effects that graduation and nongraduation have on district resources (recidivism, remediation, and human resources), and Rosenbloom 2010 considers the concept from the perspective of access, studying those who could not participate in the program. Goldring and Phillips 2008 considers choice from the vantage point of “pulling” students to choice rather than disenfranchising them by pushing them into nonchoice schools,. Cobb and Glass 2009 discusses school choice from the perspective of social justice, using case analysis both in regulated and unregulated school-choice programs. Gooden, et al. 2008 discusses the need for school choice as a way to provide safe and effective learning environments for high-poverty, high-urban settings.
Cobb, Casey D., and Gene V. Glass. 2009. School choice in a post-desegregation world. In Special issue: Informing the future of school choice policy. Edited by Casey Cobb, Courtney Bell, and Robert Bifulco. Peabody Journal of Education 84.2: 262–278.
This paper distinguishes between unregulated and regulated school-choice programs. Unregulated choice programs often increase stratification of students with similar demographics, while regulated choice programs increase school integration and are designed to inhibit further social stratification. The paper posits the benefit of incorporating social justice within the design of school-choice programs to enhance integration and increase efficacy, equality, and access.
Goldring, Ellen B., and Kristie J. R. Phillips. 2008. Parent preferences and parent choices: The public-private decision about school choice. Journal of Education Policy 23.3: 209–230.
School-choice data from the Metropolitan Nashville public schools are used to better understand parents’ choice of private over public schools. The study reveals that parental involvement in school has a higher determining effect than does dissatisfaction with public schools. This study advocates a “pulling toward” effect of private schools rather than a “pushing away” effect of public schools in driving parent choice. Available online to subscribers.
Gooden, John S., Sonja Y. Harrington, Hyacinth E. Findlay, and Gwendolyn V. King. 2008. The unsafe school choice option: A model for school choice—policy responses. Journal of School Choice 2.2: 155–178.
This paper analyzes the policy responses to the Unsafe School Choice Option, which was enacted by nine states. This school-choice concept is designed to attend to unsafe schools as well as provide learning environments that benefit students who live in high-urban, high-violence environments.
Holme, Jennifer J., and Meredith P. Richards. 2009. School choice and stratification in a regional context: Examining the role of inter-district choice. In Special issue: Informing the future of school choice policy. Edited by Casey Cobb, Courtney Bell, and Robert Bifulco. Peabody Journal of Education 84.2: 150–171.
This study examines how school-choice patterns relate to levels of access across the district. The study reveals that students within higher levels of socioeconomic status (SES) took advantage of school choice at higher levels than did other SES groups. The article provides policy recommendations that will advocate for a higher level of access and choice equality across district demographics.
Lauen, Douglas L. 2009. To choose or not to choose: High school choice and graduation in Chicago. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 31.3: 179–199.
This study examines the results of student participation in school-choice programs, including academies, charter schools, magnet schools, and preparatory high schools as they relate to graduation rates. Results suggest that there is a modest positive graduation benefit from exercising school choice, with a lower benefit for those students with high-poverty characteristics.
Lubienski, Christopher, Charisse Gulosino, and Peter Weitzel. 2009. School choice and competitive incentives: Mapping the distribution of educational opportunities across local educational markets. In Special issue: Mapping educational opportunity. Edited by Christopher Lubienski and Jack Dougherty. American Journal of Education 115.4: 601–647.
This study draws on organizational theories of educational institutions and nonprofit organizations to discuss how organizational differences empower and disadvantage school-choice options. The study finds that educational incentives play a role within larger policy and demographic arenas, which must be considered for an empowered school-choice model.
Rosenbloom, Susan R. 2010. My so-called choice: The trappings of school choice for non-admits. Urban Review: Issues and Ideas in Public Education 42.1: 1–21.
This paper deliberates over the equality offered through school choice by examination of those students who could not benefit from choice despite a desire to participate. The paper suggests improving school choice through the involvement of students, providing more access to choice, aligning policy with implementation, and following students who took advantage of school choice yet did not receive full benefits. Available online to subscribers.
Viteritti, Joseph P. 2010. School choice and market failure: How politics trumps economics in education and elsewhere. Journal of School Choice 4.2: 203–221.
This essay traces the roots of the equity approach to school choice and compares the school-choice approach to that of the market approach, as posited by Milton Friedman. The paper asserts that, similar to markets, school choice is not self-correcting, leading to increased levels of government intervention.
Wilkins, Andrew. 2010. Citizens and/or consumers: Mutations in the construction of meanings and practices of school choice. Journal of Education Policy 25.2: 171–189.
This paper utilizes data from mothers of students who have participated in school choice. It examines how varieties of constructed identities (e.g., individual/community, consumer/citizen, and political/commercial) can inform the argument for a higher understanding of school-choice implementation.
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- Academic Achievement
- Academic Audit for Universities
- Academic Freedom and Tenure in the United States
- Action Research in Education
- Adjuncts in Higher Education in the United States
- Administrator Preparation
- Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Courses
- Advocacy and Activism in Early Childhood
- African American Racial Identity and Learning
- Alaska Native Education
- Alternative Certification Programs for Educators
- Alternative Schools
- American Indian Education
- Art Education
- Artificial Intelligence and Learning
- Assessing School Leader Effectiveness
- Assessment, Behavioral
- Assessment, Educational
- Assessment in Early Childhood Education
- Assistive Technology
- Augmented Reality in Education
- Beginning-Teacher Induction
- Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
- Blended Learning
- Case Study in Education Research
- Changing Professional and Academic Identities
- Character Education
- Children’s and Young Adult Literature
- Children's Beliefs about Intelligence
- Children's Rights in Early Childhood Education
- Citizenship Education
- Civic and Social Engagement of Higher Education
- Classroom Learning Environments: Assessing and Investigati...
- Classroom Management
- Coherent Instructional Systems at the School and School Sy...
- College Admissions in the United States
- College Athletics in the United States
- Community Relations
- Comparative Education
- Computer-Based Testing
- Conceptualizing, Measuring, and Evaluating Improvement Net...
- Continuous Improvement and "High Leverage" Educational Pro...
- Counseling in Schools
- Critical Perspectives on Educational Innovation and Improv...
- Critical Race Theory
- Crossborder and Transnational Higher Education
- Cross-National Research on Continuous Improvement
- Cross-Sector Research on Continuous Learning and Improveme...
- Cultural Diversity in Early Childhood Education
- Culturally Responsive Leadership
- Culturally Responsive Pedagogies
- Culturally Responsive Teacher Education in the United Stat...
- Curriculum Design
- Data Collection in Educational Research
- Data-driven Decision Making in the United States
- Deaf Education
- Desegregation and Integration
- Design Thinking and the Learning Sciences: Theoretical, Pr...
- Development, Moral
- Dialogic Pedagogy
- Digital Age Teacher, The
- Digital Citizenship
- Digital Divides
- Distance Learning
- Distributed Leadership
- Doctoral Education and Training
- Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Denmark
- Early Childhood Education and Development in Mexico
- Early Childhood Education in Aotearoa New Zealand
- Early Childhood Education in Australia
- Early Childhood Education in China
- Early Childhood Education in Europe
- Early Childhood Education in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Early Childhood Education in Sweden
- Early Childhood Education Pedagogy
- Early Childhood Education Policy
- Early Childhood Education, The Arts in
- Early Childhood Mathematics
- Early Childhood Science
- Early Childhood Teacher Education
- Early Childhood Teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand
- Early Years Professionalism and Professionalization Polici...
- Economics of Education
- Education For Children with Autism
- Education for Sustainable Development
- Education Leadership, Empirical Perspectives in
- Education of Native Hawaiian Students
- Education Reform and School Change
- Educational Statistics for Longitudinal Research
- Educator Partnerships with Parents and Families with a Foc...
- Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
- Epistemic Beliefs
- Equity and Improvement: Engaging Communities in Educationa...
- Equity, Ethnicity, Diversity, and Excellence in Education
- Ethical Research with Young Children
- Ethics and Education
- Ethics of Teaching
- Ethnic Studies
- Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention
- Family and Community Partnerships in Education
- Family Day Care
- Federal Government Programs and Issues
- Feminization of Labor in Academia
- Finance, Education
- Financial Aid
- Formative Assessment
- Future-Focused Education
- Gender and Achievement
- Gender and Alternative Education
- Gifted Education
- Global Mindedness and Global Citizenship Education
- Global University Rankings
- Governance, Education
- Grounded Theory
- Growth of Effective Mental Health Services in Schools in t...
- Higher Education and Globalization
- Higher Education and the Developing World
- Higher Education Faculty Characteristics and Trends in the...
- Higher Education Finance
- Higher Education Governance
- Higher Education Graduate Outcomes and Destinations
- Higher Education in Africa
- Higher Education in China
- Higher Education in Latin America
- Higher Education in the United States, Historical Evolutio...
- Higher Education, International Issues in
- Higher Education Management
- Higher Education Policy
- Higher Education Research
- Higher Education Student Assessment
- High-stakes Testing
- History of Early Childhood Education in the United States
- History of Education in the United States
- History of Technology Integration in Education
- Inclusion in Early Childhood: Difference, Disability, and ...
- Inclusive Education
- Indigenous Education in a Global Context
- Indigenous Learning Environments
- Indigenous Students in Higher Education in the United Stat...
- Infant and Toddler Pedagogy
- Inservice Teacher Education
- Integrating Art across the Curriculum
- Intensive Interventions for Children and Adolescents with ...
- International Perspectives on Academic Freedom
- Intersectionality and Education
- Knowledge Development in Early Childhood
- Leadership Development, Coaching and Feedback for
- Leadership in Early Childhood Education
- Leadership Training with an Emphasis on the United States
- Learning Analytics in Higher Education
- Learning Difficulties
- Learning, Lifelong
- Learning, Multimedia
- Learning Strategies
- Legal Matters and Education Law
- LGBT Youth in Schools
- Linguistic Diversity
- Linguistically Inclusive Pedagogy
- Literacy Development and Language Acquisition
- Literature Reviews
- Mathematics Identity
- Mathematics Instruction and Interventions for Students wit...
- Mathematics Teacher Education
- Measurement for Improvement in Education
- Measurement in Education in the United States
- Meta-Analysis and Research Synthesis in Education
- Methodological Approaches for Impact Evaluation in Educati...
- Methodologies for Conducting Education Research
- Mindfulness, Learning, and Education
- Mixed Methods Research
- Multiliteracies in Early Childhood Education
- Multiple Documents Literacy: Theory, Research, and Applica...
- Multivariate Research Methodology
- Museums, Education, and Curriculum
- Music Education
- Narrative Research in Education
- Native American Studies
- Numeracy Education
- One-to-One Technology in the K-12 Classroom
- Online Education
- Open Education
- Organizing for Continuous Improvement in Education
- Organizing Schools for the Inclusion of Students with Disa...
- Outdoor Play and Learning
- Outdoor Play and Learning in Early Childhood Education
- Pedagogical Leadership
- Pedagogy of Teacher Education, A
- Performance Objectives and Measurement
- Performance-based Research Assessment in Higher Education
- Performance-based Research Funding
- Phenomenology in Educational Research
- Philosophy of Education
- Physical Education
- Podcasts in Education
- Policy Context of United States Educational Innovation and...
- Politics of Education
- Portable Technology Use in Special Education Programs and ...
- Pre-Service Teacher Education
- Problem Solving
- Productivity and Higher Education
- Professional Development
- Professional Learning Communities
- Program Evaluation
- Programs and Services for Students with Emotional or Behav...
- Psychology Learning and Teaching
- Psychometric Issues in the Assessment of English Language ...
- Qualitative Data Analysis Techniques
- Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Research Samp...
- Qualitative Research Design
- Quantitative Research Designs in Educational Research
- Race and Affirmative Action in Higher Education
- Reading Education
- Refugee and New Immigrant Learners
- Relational and Developmental Trauma and Schools
- Relational Pedagogies in Early Childhood Education
- Reliability in Educational Assessments
- Religion in Elementary and Secondary Education in the Unit...
- Researcher Development and Skills Training within the Cont...
- Research-Practice Partnerships in Education within the Uni...
- Response to Intervention
- Restorative Practices
- Scale and Sustainability of Education Innovation and Impro...
- Scaling Up Research-based Educational Practices
- School Accreditation
- School Choice
- School Culture
- School District Budgeting and Financial Management in the ...
- School Improvement through Inclusive Education
- School Reform
- Schools, Private and Independent
- School-Wide Positive Behavior Support
- Science Education
- Secondary to Postsecondary Transition Issues
- Self-Regulated Learning
- Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices
- Severe Disabilities
- Single Salary Schedule
- Single-sex Education
- Single-Subject Research Design
- Social Context of Education
- Social Justice
- Social Network Analysis
- Social Pedagogy
- Social Science and Education Research
- Social Studies Education
- Sociology of Education
- Standards-Based Education
- Statistical Assumptions
- Student Access, Equity, and Diversity in Higher Education
- Student Assignment Policy
- Student Engagement in Tertiary Education
- Student Learning, Development, Engagement, and Motivation ...
- Student Participation
- Student Voice in Teacher Development
- Sustainability Education in Early Childhood Education
- Sustainability in Early Childhood Education
- Sustainability in Higher Education
- Teacher Beliefs and Epistemologies
- Teacher Collaboration in School Improvement
- Teacher Evaluation and Teacher Effectiveness
- Teacher Preparation
- Teacher Training and Development
- Teacher Unions and Associations
- Teacher-Student Relationships
- Teaching Critical Thinking
- Technologies, Teaching, and Learning in Higher Education
- Technology Education in Early Childhood
- Technology, Educational
- Technology-based Assessment
- The Bologna Process
- The Regulation of Standards in Higher Education
- Theories of Educational Leadership
- Three Conceptions of Literacy: Media, Narrative, and Gamin...
- Tracking and Detracking
- Traditions of Quality Improvement in Education
- Transformative Learning
- Transitions in Early Childhood Education
- Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities in the Unite...
- Understanding the Psycho-Social Dimensions of Schools and ...
- University Faculty Roles and Responsibilities in the Unite...
- Using Ethnography in Educational Research
- Value of Higher Education for Students and Other Stakehold...
- Virtual Learning Environments
- Vocational and Technical Education
- Wellness and Well-Being in Education
- Women's and Gender Studies
- Young Children and Spirituality
- Young Children's Learning Dispositions
- Young Children's Working Theories