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Getting Choice Right

Getting Choice Right: Ensuring Equity and Efficiency in Education Policy

Julian R. Betts
Tom Loveless
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 255
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  • Book Info
    Getting Choice Right
    Book Description:

    This second volume from the National Working Commission on Choice in K-12 Education examines the connections between school choice and the goals of equity and efficiency in education. The contributors -distinguished university professors, high school administrators, and scholars from research institutions around the country -assess the efficiency of the educational system, analyzing efforts to boost average achievement. Their discussion of equity focuses on the reduction of racial and religious segregation in education, as well as measures to ensure that "no child is left behind." The result is an authoritative and balanced look at how to maximize benefits while minimizing risks in the implementation of school choice. The National Working Commission on Choice in K-12 Education was established to explore how choice works and to examine how communities interested in the potential benefits of new school options could obtain them while avoiding choice's potential harms. In addition to the editors, commissioners include Paul T. Hill and Dan Goldhaber (University of Washington), David Ferrero (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), Brian P. Gill and Laura Hamilton (Rand), Jeffrey R. Henig (Teachers College, Columbia University), Frederick M. Hess (American Enterprise Institute), Stephen Macedo (Princeton University), Lawrence Rosenstock (High Tech High, San Diego), Charles Venegoni (Civitas Schools in Chicago), Janet Weiss (University of Michigan), and Patrick J. Wolf (Georgetown University).

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-9797-5
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. 1 School Choice, Equity, and Efficiency
    (pp. 1-13)
    Julian R. Betts and Tom Loveless

    In 2001 the Brookings Institution initiated the National Working Commission on Choice in K—12 Education, chaired by Paul Hill. With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the commission worked over several years to study school choice in the United States. This book evolved from the deliberations of that commission. It analyzes the potential costs and benefits of school choice and the mechanisms that policymakers can adopt to maximize the benefits of choice while mitigating its risks.

    This approach may seem unusual given that current public debate in the United States is...

  4. 2 The Economic Theory of School Choice
    (pp. 14-39)
    Julian R. Betts

    In a variety of forms, school choice is making gains in America’s K—12 school systems. At one end of the spectrum are open-enrollment programs that allow students to switch from their local school to other public schools in the same district (or in some cases, other districts) subject to space being available. In addition, almost all states now have provisions for charter schools. At the other end of the spectrum are experimental voucher programs in cities such as Milwaukee that provide public subsidies to students to enroll in local private schools.

    School choice, especially its more radical variants such...

  5. 3 Understanding How Families Choose Schools
    (pp. 40-60)
    Laura S. Hamilton and Kacey Guin

    Although choice systems take a variety of forms, the effectiveness of any of them depends in large part on the responses of the families who are offered choice.¹ To the extent that a choice system encourages families to choose schools that promote academic achievement and to avoid those that do not, the system should create incentives for all schools to focus on the goal of raising student achievement.

    Some skeptics of choice worry that many families, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, will either fail to make choices or will emphasize nonacademic criteria when they do make choices.² Others worry that...

  6. 4 The Supply Side of School Choice
    (pp. 61-84)
    Julian R. Betts, Dan Goldhaber and Larry Rosenstock

    A supply-side response to a school choice program is an essential part of the theory that greater choice will lead to positive systemic changes in K—12 education. The number and type of schools that open or expand will determine both whether students wishing to exercise choice have viable options as well as the extent to which all schools face competitive pressures. Thus understanding the influences on the supply of schools (more precisely, the supply of educational slots) is crucial to identifying the likely impacts of various choice programs.

    A basic assumption of any school choice system is that, under...

  7. 5 How School Choice Affects Student Achievement
    (pp. 85-100)
    Frederick M. Hess and Tom Loveless

    In debates over charter schooling, school vouchers, and public school choice, policymakers look to the research documenting how choice arrangements affect participating students. Proponents point to studies that suggest school choice has produced positive effects; critics cite research showing choice to be harmful. Amidst these exchanges, the larger question tends to get lost: How have choice programs caused the benefits or harms that research has uncovered?

    A curious vacuum exists at the heart of the research on school choice. Even as researchers seek to determine whether choice-based schools (primarily private schools and charter schools) educate children more effectively than conventional...

  8. 6 How School Choice Affects Students Who Do Not Choose
    (pp. 101-129)
    Dan Goldhaber, Kacey Guin, Jeffrey R. Henig, Frederick M. Hess and Janet A. Weiss

    Proponents of school choice often point to the benefits of competition in the private sector when positing that market-based education reform will yield academic benefits for all students. Critics of school choice, on the other hand, typically suggest that the education system is so different from the private sector that the market analogy is inappropriate. They voice concerns that students who do not avail themselves of options will be left isolated in schools stripped of the resources and personnel necessary for improvement. In this chapter, we address these two conflicting arguments. Though much of the debate about school choice has...

  9. 7 School Choice and Integration
    (pp. 130-145)
    Brian Gill

    One of the key empirical questions about school choice programs is how they will affect the way students are sorted into schools and classrooms. This chapter does not present new empirical evidence about the relationship between choice and integration, but it seeks to establish a conceptual framework for future empirical work. It begins by briefly examining the purpose and meaning of integration and argues that the empirical study of integration must be informed by a deep understanding of the concept and its place in the history of American public education. It hypothesizes a number of causal models that can explain...

  10. 8 Charter Schools and Integration: The Experience in Michigan
    (pp. 146-175)
    Karen E. Ross

    When President Bush signed No Child Left Behind into law on January 8, 2002, an already highly charged debate over school choice got an extra boost. The most contentious debates previously surrounded the issue of vouchers for private (and often religious) schooling. The new education law has, however, brought charter schools and other forms of public school choice to the center of the debate. Although much of the controversy over school choice revolves around the ability of school choice to improve student achievement, the impact of increased choice on the integration of schools may be dramatic. Opponents argue that choice...

  11. 9 Understanding the Political Conflict over School Choice
    (pp. 176-209)
    Jeffrey R. Henig

    One of the hallmarks of the school choice debate has been its hair-trigger responsiveness even to proposals for incremental and experimental change. Because the status quo ante was characterized by a rather constrained set of choices, the prevalent manifestation has been the mobilization of so-called antichoice forces whenever there has been discussion of introducing market forces via open enrollment, charter schools, education tax credits, or public vouchers.¹ As various choice schemes have been enacted, the reverse phenomenon, in which prochoice interests rise up to battle even minor increases in regulation and public oversight of choice schools, has become common as...

  12. 10 School Choice and Civic Values
    (pp. 210-244)
    Patrick J. Wolf

    For centuries scholars and policymakers have debated the question of whether assigned government-run public schools have a comparative advantage over public schools of choice and private schools in steeping their charges in the civic values necessary for democratic citizenship. The theoretical argument in favor of such an advantage is both intuitive and popular. Political philosophers from Benjamin Rush to John Dewey, as well as the more contemporary Benjamin Barber, Amy Guttman, Eamonn Callan, and Stephen Macedo, argue that neighborhood public schools are ideally if not uniquely situated to inculcate civic values in American students.¹ As free government schools, open to...

  13. Contributors
    (pp. 245-246)
  14. Index
    (pp. 247-256)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 257-260)