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School Choice: An Arizona Case Study

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ABSTRACT The origins of School Choice in the United States can be predominantly attributed to Milton Friedman's 1955 essay, "The Role of Government in Education." Since that time, the idea

ABSTRACT The origins of School Choice in the United States can be predominantly attributed to Milton Friedman's 1955 essay, "The Role of Government in Education." Since that time, the idea of leveling the educational playing field with a free market approach has been championed by conservatives and abhorred by liberals. Currently, there is overwhelming evidence to support the fact that public schools are failing today's youth and are not providing them with the tools to succeed post-high school graduation. Many policymakers have attempted to improve the education system by increasing the options available to parents. Today, that choice comes in the form of charter schools, Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), Vouchers, and Tax-Credit Scholarships (STOs). Each of these mechanisms seeks to empower families to make the best decision for their child, yet each comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Fraud and abuse plague every system and School Choice is not immune to such problems. However, the root concept at the core of school choice - that every child should have to opportunity to attend any school of their choosing, whether public, private, or charter - is fundamentally positive for society. The concept of School Choice is a noble and intelligent solution to the complex task of educating millions of youth across the United States. However, the process must be properly executed, through ESAs and Vouchers, to truly promote access and opportunity for all. Specifically, in Arizona, tax credit programs should be phased out in lieu of more efficient programs readily available. If this is not achieved, then School Choice becomes just another piece in an already dysfunctional puzzle.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017-05

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K-12, Title I Education: School Choice Institutions, Experimental Programs, and Policies

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According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Title I \u2014 also known as "Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged," is a "[federal] program [that] provides financial assistance through

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Title I \u2014 also known as "Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged," is a "[federal] program [that] provides financial assistance through state educational agencies (SEAs) to local educational agencies (LEAs) and public schools with high numbers or percentages of poor children to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic content and student academic achievement standards," (NCES, 2016.) Title I has existed since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, and continues to be reauthorized; most recently, Title I was included in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015, (Education Week, 2015). Although Title I's structure has remained much the same over the years, the education market has not, which impacts Title I's future. For example, the number of public and state-accredited schools benefiting from Title I is growing, mainly because of concerns about an increasing number of at-risk youth struggling to meet state and federal academic standards every year. In order to support this growing need, the Title I budget increases year-to-year (U.S. Department of Education, 2004). Furthermore, the Title I program is often criticized based on its effectiveness in assisting LEAs to elevate at-risk youth to meet U.S. academic standards. Because of Title I's sheer size, being the largest federal fund to K-12 education, one can critique Title I's effectiveness in a few ways. For example, school choice institutions, experimental programs, and policies often challenge Title I's formula structure. School choice essentially encourages a parent and/or child to choose the academic institution they wish to affiliate with (Sunderman, 2014). That said, some school choice entities critique the distribution of Title I, because youth that benefit from certain Title I services usually attend poor and/or underperforming schools \u2014 which often lack resources and K-12, Title I Education: School Choice Institutions, Experimental Programs, and Policies 5 educational opportunities - hence school choice seeks to shift the distribution of Title I funds away from poor schools and more towards the individual student to decide their school of choice, (Sunderman, 2014). This thesis reviews the research on Title I's structure, affiliated school choice institutions, experimental programs, and polices; the validity of the underlying assumptions of the school choice critique of Title I; in addition, a school choice policy idea is proposed by the author, which is a more feasible alternative to the ineffective Title I Portability proposal.

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  • 2016-12

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School choice: Mixed strategy Nash equilibrium as a way to predict preference reporting

Description

Since Abdulkadiroglu and Sonmez’s influential paper in 2003 that
merges school choice and mechanism design, research in the rapidly
growing school choice literature has been mainly focused on the
design

Since Abdulkadiroglu and Sonmez’s influential paper in 2003 that
merges school choice and mechanism design, research in the rapidly
growing school choice literature has been mainly focused on the
design of mechanisms with desirable properties or more realistic
assumptions. However, lab experiments often show that subjects do
not report preferences according to the experimenters’ expectation,
and the experiments rarely provide an in-depth analysis of why the
subjects behave in such confounding ways. My thesis formulates
preference reporting in school choice as a game by incorporating a
payoff schedule and proposes mixed strategy Nash equilibrium as a
way to predict preference reporting.

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Date Created
  • 2019-05

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Arizona's mature education market: how school and community stakeholders make meaning of school choice policies

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School choice reforms such as charter schools, vouchers, open enrollment, and private and public school tax credit donation programs have expanded throughout the United States over the past twenty years.

School choice reforms such as charter schools, vouchers, open enrollment, and private and public school tax credit donation programs have expanded throughout the United States over the past twenty years. Arizona’s long-standing public school choice system enrolls a higher percentage of public school students in charter schools than any state besides Washington D.C. A growing number of Arizona’s charter schools are managed by for-profit and nonprofit Education Management Organizations (EMOs). Advocates of school choice argue that free-market education approaches will make public schools competitive and nimble as parents’ choices place pressures on schools to improve or close. This, then, improves all schools: public, private, and charter. Critics are concerned that education markets produce segregation along racial and social class lines and inequalities in educational opportunities, because competition favors advantaged parents and children who can access resources. Private and for-profit schools may see it in their interest to exclude students who require more support. School choice programs, then, may further marginalize students who live in poverty, who receive special education services, and English language learners.

We do not fully understand how Arizona’s mature school choice system affects parents and other stakeholders in communities “on the ground.” That is, how are school policies understood and acted out? I used ethnographic methods to document and analyze the social, cultural, and political contexts and perspectives of stakeholders at one district public school and in its surrounding community, including its charter schools. I examined: (a) how stakeholders perceived and engaged with schools; (b) how stakeholders understood school policies, including school choice policies; and (c) what influenced families’ choices.

Findings highlight how most stakeholders supported district public schools. At the same time, some “walked the line” between choices that were good for their individual families and those they believed were good for public schools and society. Stakeholders imagined “community” and “accountability” in a range of ways, and they did not all have equal access to policy knowledge. Pressures related to parental accountability in the education market were apparent as stakeholders struggled to make, and sometimes revisit, their choices, creating a tenuous schooling environment for their families.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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Parental school choices in market-oriented school systems: why middle class immigrants self-select into specialized academic programs

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This study addresses racial segregation in schools by examining the self-selecting patterns of middle class Asian immigrant parents in a public non-charter school district who enrolled their children in specialized

This study addresses racial segregation in schools by examining the self-selecting patterns of middle class Asian immigrant parents in a public non-charter school district who enrolled their children in specialized academic programs. This phenomenological study focused on the educational history and the decision-making process of school choice in a sample of 11 Chinese and Vietnamese immigrant parents; a majority of them were identified as Chinese mothers. This study was conducted to answer the research questions: (R1) How do the parents' past experiences play a role in their perception of specialized academic programs and the decision-making process of selecting a school? (R2) What kind of informational networks or sources are used to make school choice? (R3) What are parents' notions of academic achievement or success for their children? (R4) How do parents' perceive specialized programs after engaging in them? This study sought to understand the relationship between the parents' own educational experiences and their negotiation of school choice for their children by collecting data through interviews, focus groups, and artifact documents. This study found that (1) the competitive conditions of the parents' educational experiences attributed to their sociocultural belief of education as social mobility which was a significant factor in their selection of an advanced program and expectations of high academic achievement; (2) mothers identified school reviews from friends as the most important information they obtained when they made school choice; these reviews took place in their coethnic social networks in Chinese language schools that offered their children heritage language development, academic, and nonacademic-based extracurricular classes; and (3) parents indicated that school choice is a continuous evaluative and comparative process. Overall, the study highlights the participants' bimodal acquisition of school advantages for their children in market-oriented school systems and the roles parents play in establishing cultural norms in making school choice. In return, these norms have depicted the participants in the model minority role, which leads to the perpetuation of the racist stereotype of all Asians as high achievers. This study has presented a multi-layered perspective of how middle class Chinese and Vietnamese American immigrant parents capitalize on specialized academic programs.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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The most common school choice: student reenrollment and its associated factors

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This dissertation is based on an empirical study that focused on student reenrollment, an essential but largely overlooked element of school choice policies. Based on the school choice literature, I

This dissertation is based on an empirical study that focused on student reenrollment, an essential but largely overlooked element of school choice policies. Based on the school choice literature, I extended the hypothesis of parental charter school choice to the subject of reenrollment. In doing so, I referred jointly to theories from the fields of public choice and business, in order to better understand student reenrollment in a maturing education market. By tracking student enrollment records over multiples years and linking them to school attributes (socio-economic status, racial/ethnic composition of the student body, school quality label), student demographics, and student academic performance, I established a complex student reenrollment database. I applied a rigorous statistical model to this data, allowing me to identify a number of important insights about student reenrollment in a maturing education market. I described the reenrollment patterns at the state level, as well as a predictive model of reenrollment outcome at the individual level. My analyses indicate that student reenrollment was the most common school choice outcome: most students reenrolled in their present schools, regardless of that school's quality label; however, the student reenrollment rates in charter schools were lower than those in traditional public schools. I observed patterns of segregation in student reenrollment within Arizona, as reenrollment appeared to be significantly polarized with respect to school attributes and students' characteristics. There were two distinct patterns that appeared to coexist in Arizona's student reenrollment data: quality-oriented reenrollment and similarity-oriented reenrollment. The findings of this study extend the school choice literature to include student reenrollment. This study challenges the application of market metaphors in the context of school choice, which generally advocate the reform of public schools through encouraging students to switch, promoting school competition and thereby improving public education quality. Instead of using command and control policies to shame schools into improvement, however, policymakers and parents should employ school accountability policies and the practice of school labeling as a trigger to reinvest in struggling schools, rather than encouraging students to find a new one.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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Landscapes of school choice, past and present: a qualitative study of Navajo parent school placement decisions

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This study examines the contemporary school placement decisions of Navajo parents in the reservation community of Piñon, Arizona. School placement decisions are defined as the school where the parent

This study examines the contemporary school placement decisions of Navajo parents in the reservation community of Piñon, Arizona. School placement decisions are defined as the school where the parent chooses to enroll his/her child for schooling. Twelve Navajo parents participated in this qualitative study, which explored their past educational experiences in order to garner insight into the current school placement choices they have made for their children. Navajo parents who live within the community of Piñon, AZ who currently have school-aged children living in their household were recruited to participate in this study. Participants took part in 60- to 90-minute interviews that included questions related to their prior educational experiences and current school placement choices for their children. Parents were given an opportunity to reflect about the school placement decisions they have made for their children. The variety of schools Navajo parents are able to choose from were illuminated. These findings have implications for education decision makers by providing insight into which schools parents are choosing and why. The study will assist Navajo Nation policy makers in future educational planning, and may have more general implications for American Indian/Alaskan Native education. This may assist Navajo Education policy makers in making future decisions regarding the newly developed Navajo Department of Education and its education planning. Participants will also benefit from the study by being able to understand how the past has impacted the school placement choices they have made. In doing so parents may be better able to articulate the impetus behind the choices they make for their children, thereby becoming better advocates for themselves and their children. The results of this study impacts scholarly literature as a new viewpoint in the area of school choice. Navajo parents represent a distinct group who make educational choices within a specific context. This study is unique as the impact of historical Indian education policies is considered. Future studies can further expand on the topic creating a unique area of research in the field of Indian education.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011