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ERIC Number: EJ767503
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1539-9664
Civics Exam: Schools of Choice Boost Civic Values
Wolf, Patrick J.
Education Next, v7 n3 p67-72 Sum 2007
Many supporters of school choice argue that neighborhood assignment to public schools results not in diversity, but in the opposite: schools that are less likely to contain a diverse mix of students and that are more internally segregated along racial lines than are schools of choice. In recent years, a number of empirical studies of the effects of school choice on civic values have been published. As the extent of school choice in American education continues to grow--the latest data from the Department of Education show that 26 percent of American students attended a school other than their closest neighborhood public school--it is time to take stock of the evidentiary record on whether assigned public schooling better prepares students for their responsibilities as citizens in a democracy. For this review, the author examines the results of 21 quantitative studies regarding the effects of school choice on seven civic values that relate to the capacity of individuals to perform as effective citizens in a representative democracy. The values, in order from the most studied to the least studied, are: (1) political tolerance; (2) voluntarism; (3) political knowledge; (4) political participation; (5) social capital; (6) civic skills; and (7) patriotism. Most of the studies included in the analysis focus on students in private schools. Only three studies present results for students in charter or magnet schools. Therefore, the results described in this article primarily map out the effects of private schooling on civic values. The empirical studies to date counter the claims of school choice opponents that private schooling inherently and inevitably undermines the fostering of civic values. The statistical record suggests that private schooling and school choice often enhance the realization of the civic values that are central to a well-functioning democracy. (Contains 2 figures.)
Hoover Institution. Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Tel: 800-935-2882; Fax: 650-723-8626; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
IES Funded: Yes
Grant or Contract Numbers: R305A040043