Perspectives on Elite Boarding Schools

Authored by: Mark Berends , Matthew G. Springer , Dale Ballou , Herbert J. Walberg , Ann Primus

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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This chapter examines the role of elite secondary boarding schools in American education. The key questions guiding this research are: (1) How can we identify elite boarding schools? (2) Who attends the elite schools? (3) What are the manifest and latent curricula of the elite schools? (4) Where do the graduates go to college? and, (5) Are the elite schools still influential in reproducing inequality? The results of this examination indicate that the most socially elite schools remain portals to privilege and that the socialization process within these “total institutions” has a powerful affect on their graduates, particularly in terms of their ability to balance the high ideals of the formal curriculum with the intensely political and social realities of student life. It is found that the schools possess an enormous amount of wealth and remain effective in ensuring that their graduates attend the most prestigious colleges and universities. The implication of these findings is that the U.S. secondary school system remains highly stratified and continues to reproduce privilege.

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