- White Parents, Diversity and School Choice Policies: Where Good Intentions, Anxiety and Privilege Collide
Authors: Amy Stuart Wells, Allison Roda
School Choice & School Improvement: What have we learned?
This paper examines the relationship between the ways in which privileged parents make sense of their school choices, the policies that shape their choice options, and the larger structures of inequality — racial and socio-economic segregation and unequal educational opportunities — that their choices often help reinforce and legitimize. The researchers interviewed white, upper-middle-class and very affluent parents who participated in the 2006 school choice program in one community school district in New York City. They examined how these parents decided which schools are desirable, worried about their children’s chances in a competitive society, and considered the benefits of racially diverse schools. They learned that while most of these parents considered racially diverse schools important in the abstract, their children more often ended up in separate Gifted and Talented (G&T) programs within public schools or in private school – both of which were predominantly white. The lack of racially diverse schools and parents’ frustration with the segregated G&T classrooms, combined with their anxiety to get into the best schools, forced these parents to make choices that protects their privilege.