Education scholars examine the impact of school choice in a “post-desegregation era” in a series of articles published in the May issue of the Peabody Journal of Education.
Several articles address the potential consequences of choice programs on segregation by race and class.
A study by four researchers, including Julian R. Betts, an economics professor at the University of California, San Diego, finds that the design of choice programs in San Diego appears to be crucial in determining their effects on integration. Programs that provide busing or incorporate geographic preferences, it notes, “do much to level the playing field in favor of the relatively disadvantaged.”
An article by three researchers, including Helen F. Ladd, a professor of public policy and economics at Duke University, looks at choice in Durham, N.C. It found that students whose parents are college-educated are more likely to opt out of their assigned schools and to opt out of schools with concentrations of disadvantaged students.
“The results of our analyses suggest that any benefits of expanded school choice that accrue to those able to take advantage of it come at the expense of poorer learning environments for those left behind,” they write.
Other articles in the journal look at how parents’ motivation and decisionmaking processes influence the schools they pick for their children.
The Peabody Journal is sponsored by Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education in Nashville, Tenn.
A version of this article appeared in the June 17, 2009 edition of Education Week