Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools

Russell Sage Foundation
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A series of policy shifts over the past decade promises to change how Americans decide where to send their children to school. In theory, the boom in standardized test scores and charter schools will allow parents to evaluate their assigned neighborhood school, or move in search of a better option. But what kind of data do parents actually use while choosing schools? Are there differences among suburban and urban families? How do parents’ choices influence school and residential segregation in America? Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools presents a breakthrough analysis of the new era of school choice, and what it portends for American neighborhoods. The distinguished contributors to Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools investigate the complex relationship between education, neighborhood social networks, and larger patterns of inequality. Paul Jargowsky reviews recent trends in segregation by race and class. His analysis shows that segregation between blacks and whites has declined since 1970, but remains extremely high. Moreover, white families with children are less likely than childless whites to live in neighborhoods with more minority residents. In her chapter, Annette Lareau draws on interviews with parents in three suburban neighborhoods to analyze school-choice decisions. Surprisingly, she finds that middle- and upper-class parents do not rely on active research, such as school tours or test scores. Instead, most simply trust advice from friends and other people in their network. Their decision-making process was largely informal and passive. Eliot Weinginer complements this research when he draws from his data on urban parents. He finds that these families worry endlessly about the selection of a school, and that parents of all backgrounds actively consider alternatives, including charter schools. Middle- and upper-class parents relied more on federally mandated report cards, district websites, and online forums, while working-class parents use network contacts to gain information on school quality. Little previous research has explored what role school concerns play in the preferences of white and minority parents for particular neighborhoods. Featuring innovative work from more than a dozen scholars, Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools adroitly addresses this gap and provides a firmer understanding of how Americans choose where to live and send their children to school.
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About the author

Annette Lareau is the Stanley I. Sheerr Term Professor in the Social Sciences at University of Pennsylvania.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Russell Sage Foundation
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Published on
Mar 31, 2014
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9781610448208
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Education / General
Social Science / General
Social Science / Sociology / Marriage & Family
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read the author's commentary for the Teachers College Record here: http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=15915

It is not an exaggeration to say that the field of education has been under attack. Many, particularly in Washington, D.C., have proclaimed the research to be shoddy. They have called for new "scientific" standards for research. Randomized control trials have been promoted. In many of these discussions, the only criterion is making a more rational and scientific approach to education research. Since the federal government plays a leadership role in defining the terms of education debates, this critique is important. It stands to radically reshape research and possibly school priorities in the future.

The essays in this book take up this important topic. They offer critical insight into how this debate came to flourish. Some of the authors take issue with core assertions of the debate; other are sympathetic. Taken together, they help to broaden and deepen our understanding of the efforts to revamp the field of education research and, ultimately education. The chapters also discuss the factors that facilitate, and impede, research from having an impact on policy.

Teaching and Learning Goals Include:

-- helps illuminate the relationship between education research and policy

--critically examines key assumptions of federal legislation particularly the call for scientific rigor in the No Child Left Behind Legislation

--helps students understand the broader intellectual context of this crisis in education

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