Reasons for parental choice of urban schools

  • Goldring E
  • Hausman C
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ISSN: 0268-0939 (Print) 1464-5106 (Online) Journal homepage: Much of the discussion around why parents choose certain schools focuses on parents who choose an alternative to their attendance-zone school, usually a magnet or private school. However, in reality, m any m ore parents exercise choice. Parents who seek inform ation, look at alternative schools, but then decide to choose their assig ned atten-dance-zone school are also participants in a system of school choice. This study explores differences in race, socioeco-nomic status, and reasons for choice among four groups of parents in one urban school district with a controlled parental choice plan: (1) m ag net school choosers; (2) integrated non-m agnet school choosers; (3) non-integrated non-magnet school choosers (i.e. 98% or greater African-Am erican enrolm ents); and (4) non-choosers (i.e. those parents who do not seek inform ation to engag e in the decision-m aking process regarding choice of school). The results of the analysis indicate that parent backg round characteristics, parents' reasons for choosing a particular school, satisfaction with public schools, and distance between the home and school differentiate between parents who choose m agnets, parents who choose non-m agnets, and non-choosers. Intr od uction A n Associated Press poll indicated that 68% of respondents believe parents should have the rig ht to choose the schools their children attend (The Carneg ie Foundation for the A dvancement of Teaching 1992). Mag net school plans are the m ost common school choice tool. A s Blank (1990) notesThe first m agnet schools were desig ned in the early 1970s; in 1982-83, one-third of the largest urban districts had magnet schools; and today it would be difficult to find an urban school system w ithout a m agnet program' (p. 77). This paper describes the decision-m aking context of parents w ho exercise their rig ht to choose from among three school types in an urban school district with a con-trolled parental choice plan: m agnet schools, integ rated non-magnet schools, and non-integrated non-magnet schools (i.e. 98% or greater A frican-American enrol-m ents). M agnet schools are operationalized as schools that possess four qualities: (1) a thematic curriculum (e.g. international studies) or unique method of instruction

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  • E. B. Goldring

  • C. S. Hausman

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