How Do High Status Parents Choose Schools? Evidence From A Choice District

Neighborhood map with "school" written on the pavement

In-depth interviews with Houston-area parents in affluent neighborhoods sheds light on how families select schools.

One premise of school choice is that parents largely use academic quality indicators to choose schools. Exploratory data from 21 in-depth interviews of parents in affluent Houston neighborhoods suggest that other sources of information (such as stereotypes about race and class) are meaningful for high-status parents, who have the greatest ability to exercise school choice. This may have unintended consequences for school choice programs within a racially diverse district, which may undermine equality of opportunity goals. Interview data illuminate the ways in which choice works in favor of those with greater resources.

Photo: Rae Allen

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