Political Perspectives on School Choice


Handbook of Research on School Choice

Print publication date:  April  2009
Online publication date:  May  2009

Print ISBN: 9780805862232
eBook ISBN: 9780203881781
Adobe ISBN:


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School choice threatens arrangements that benefit some groups (e.g., public school employees, parents satisfied with their neighborhood schools, unions), and creates arrangements that might benefit other groups (e.g., independent school operators, vendors, parents dissatisfied with their neighborhood schools). Though there are principled arguments for and against such choice initiatives as vouchers and charter schools, much of the contention is political, between groups that expect to gain or lose. A well-established theory in political science would predict that groups favoring school choice will seek to involve groups that have been quiescent about education policy, and that groups opposing school choice will seek to discourage new groups from becoming active. We show that this theory applies to the case of school choice, and suggest how the politics of choice will evolve in the future.

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