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ERIC Number: ED561792
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 161
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3034-4430-2
Parents' Experience with School Choice
Zaich, Daniel Anthony
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, University of California, Davis
This qualitative case study sought to understand the experiences of a group of parents residing in the Novato Unified School District, Marin County, CA., as they engaged in the process of deciding where to send their children to school as the students matriculated from eighth to ninth grade, or middle school to high school. The four major constructs that underlie this study are: School Choice; Resegregation; Social Capital Theory; and Social Organization of Schooling. The data from this study demonstrated the ways that the twenty suburban upper-middle class parents in this purposeful sample understand the choices they made in their educational decisions for their children. The data analysis revealed some aspects of education parents consider important in their school choice process, and how they make sense of schooling options for their children. The data consisted of parents' statements from focus group discussions. Based on findings from this study, there is an indication that family history plays a very strong and influential role in the choices that parents make. Also, findings in this study regarding parents' level of education and what parents value in schools indicated that these college educated parents in an upper-middle class socio-economic group consider the sociological attributes of a school important. They believe that a small community environment where teachers and staff know each student and child have a personal relationship with faculty members and administrators is imperative. This college educated sample ranked the learning environment, specifically, teacher quality, as the most important aspect of their child's education. All of the parents expressed concern about teacher preparedness, teacher and staff overload, and the quality of curricular programs. Based on the learning environment's classroom safety data, across all parent focus groups in this study, the conclusion drawn was that these parents are very concerned about their child's well-being. This study indicated the need for educators to make sustained and well planned efforts to increase the connection for parents between their potential school choice options and the educational opportunities the school programs provide. While the school district may have detailed information on measures of school performance which parents find useful, this information is often not easily accessible or understandable to parents. It is recommended that partnerships between neighborhood public high schools and lower grades at their feeder schools should be part of each public high school's community outreach program bridge-building efforts and should extend to the elementary level. Furthermore, public policy-makers should review the current trend to open more and more charter schools. These research finding suggest that more choice is not necessarily better and may in fact be influencing resegregation issues in small suburban school districts. Public high schools might increase program choices and flexibility in the design of students' individual class schedules rather than adding more schools of choice. Creating small communities of students with similar interests within existing public high schools might better serve as a major focus and objective for educational policy-makers at the local district, state, and federal levels. Future research needs to better understand the social-psychological underpinnings of parents' school choice decision process. More in-depth case studies including life history patterns and choices within families could contribute to these understandings. Parents in this study relied heavily on informal, word-of-mouth information-gathering activities. A study to determine the impact of media technologies on the quantity, quality, and type of information used by parents and their children during the search process might shed further light on possible improvements public school administrators could make to retain more students in the public educations system. Finally, educational policymakers need to develop successful strategies to prevent the resegregation of suburban schools. Policies would help change the flow of people in and out of communities to achieve educational objectives to eliminate resegregation. Networks cold be created between the education profession, urban development, housing, civil rights agencies, and the media about the challenge of resegregation and the possible solutions to this problem. Small, suburban school districts are especially vulnerable to resegregation. To deal with this problem small school districts could consolidate into countywide systems to prevent resegregation and achieve a more integrated educational system and better educational outcomes for all students. Further research and investigation of a possible movement toward resegregation of this and other suburban communities is needed. A comparison of local statistics with national data might illuminate the difference in educational outcomes between communities without school integration plans versus communities with integrated plans. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California