Cucchiara, Maia Bloomfield, & Horvat, Erin McNamara
Choosing Selves: The Salience of Parental Identity in the School Choice Process
What motivates middle class parents to send their children to a racially and socioeconomically integrated urban school? What were the processes through which they came to that decision?
How did parents’ views of social class and, especially, race affect their decision-making?
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Journal of Education Policy
Vol. 29, No. 4, Pp. 486-509
For parents the act of choosing a school can become a means of expressing and enacting a particular identity. In this case, the intersections between identity and choice pushed many parents-invested in seeing themselves as liberal urbanites- towards an urban public school.
Common findings among parents were;
In addition to considering the merits of individual schools, the parents in this study made their decisions based on their own sense of who they were and the ways in which the choice of a school would affirm or undermine the identity they valued and hoped to project.
Parents who considered Darcey cared about school quality and student achievement.
Parents preferred public schools over private schools, viewing private schools as an indicator of privilege.
They viewed themselves as city people and believers in diversity.
A number of parents linked their decision to use an urban public school to a belief that the presence of more middle-class families would improve the school for everyone.
Parents noted that the inclusion of middle-class families would bring a variety of resources, including funds for additional supplies and programming to urban public schools.
The parents in this study valued diversity and felt that their children would benefit more from a diverse school setting, which is not present in a private school.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Choice, Diversity, Public Schools, Urban Schools
Interviews, Participant observation
Method of Analysis:
Middle class parents at urban public schools
Unit of Analysis:
70 hours of participation observation were collected, this includes; Back-to-school night, school plays, school drop-off and pick-up, and at six meetings of the Parent-Teacher Organization.
32 hours of interviews with parents, school personnel, and community members.
All interviews were semi-structured, tape-recorded, and transcribed, they lasted approximately one hour. After the interviews were transcribed they were coded, and analyzed using conventional qualitative analysis techniques.