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Good Parents Sometimes Select Failing Schools

There are about 3.5 million American children who could transfer from poor performing schools under No Child Left Behind. But only 2-3 percent have done so.
There are about 3.5 million American children who could transfer from poor performing schools under No Child Left Behind. But only 2-3 percent have done so.

Most parents are choosing to keep their children in failing schools. A new study by Courtney Bell published by the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Columbia University Teachers College examines why this is occurring.

Bell conducted a comparative case study of 48 families from different racial and socio-economic groups. She found that almost all parents, regardless of individual characteristics, used the same basic criteria when choosing their child's school - they search for environments that emphasize academic achievement and their child's well-being.

However, not all families have the same choices when it comes to changing schools. For example, Bell found that the social networks of middle-class parents enabled them to choose from more schools, while poor and working-class parents were able to get their children to fewer schools.

Her findings question the effectiveness of market-based choice reforms, especially if disadvantaged families do not even consider schools that benefit their children educationally.

This article appeared in the November 9th, 2005 publication of the Savannah Morning News.  

Published Monday, Nov. 14, 2005

Good Parents Sometimes Select Failing Schools

There are about 3.5 million American children who could transfer from poor performing schools under No Child Left Behind. But only 2-3 percent have done so.

Most parents are choosing to keep their children in failing schools. A new study by Courtney Bell published by the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Columbia University Teachers College examines why this is occurring.

Bell conducted a comparative case study of 48 families from different racial and socio-economic groups. She found that almost all parents, regardless of individual characteristics, used the same basic criteria when choosing their child's school - they search for environments that emphasize academic achievement and their child's well-being.

However, not all families have the same choices when it comes to changing schools. For example, Bell found that the social networks of middle-class parents enabled them to choose from more schools, while poor and working-class parents were able to get their children to fewer schools.

Her findings question the effectiveness of market-based choice reforms, especially if disadvantaged families do not even consider schools that benefit their children educationally.

This article appeared in the November 9th, 2005 publication of the Savannah Morning News.  

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