Roda, A. & Stuart Wells, A. (2013). School Choice Policies and Racial Segregation_ Where White Paren - School Choice Policies and Racial Segregation

Roda, A. & Stuart Wells, A. (2013). School Choice Policies and Racial Segregation_ Where White Paren

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FEBRUARY 2013 261 American Journal of Education 119 (February 2013) 2012 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. 0195-6744/2013/11902-0003$10.00 School Choice Policies and Racial Segregation: Where White Parents’ Good Intentions, Anxiety, and Privilege Collide ALLISON RODA Teachers College, Columbia University AMY STUART WELLS Teachers College, Columbia University A growing body of school choice research has shown that when school choice policies are not designed to racially or socioeconomically integrate schools, that is, are “colorblind” policies, they generally manage to do the opposite, leading to greater stratification and separation of students by race and ethnicity across schools and programs. Since white, advantaged parents are more likely to get their children into the highest-status schools regardless of the school choice policy in place, we believed that more research was needed on how those parents interact with school choice policies and whether they would support changes to those policies that would lead to less segregation across schools. Our interviews with advantaged New York City parents suggest that many are bothered by the segregation but that they are concerned that their children gain access to the “best” (mostly white) schools. The contradictions inherent in their choices are reconcilable, we argue, by offering more diverse and undivided school options. Throughout the history of American education, various school choice policies have been devised to accomplish different goals. For instance, prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, southern school districts implemented so-called freedom- of-choice and tuition voucher programs specifically to assure that schools re- mained racially segregated. Then, in the era of school desegregation, various school choice programs, including magnet schools and voluntary transfer plans, were created to do the exact opposite, namely, to promote racial integration and more diverse schools (see Wells 1993). More recently, popular school choice policies, including charter schools, voucher plans, and open enrollment programs, have been enacted in most Electronically published December 7, 2012
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School Choice and Segregation 262 American Journal of Education states to foster greater competition for students among schools. These plans are designed specifically to infuse market-based principles into government- funded schools and thereby foster innovation. Interestingly enough, given the history of school choice in the United States, these newer school choice policies are not designed to specifically address issues of racial segregation (Wells 1993). In this way they are considered “colorblind.” Still, a growing body of research has documented a strong positive corre- lation between increasing racial/ethnic segregation in public schools and the growth in these popular so-called colorblind and more market-based school choice policies, which do not explicitly promote racial integration (see Mead and Green 2012; Mickelson et al. 2008; Wells and Roda 2008). In other
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