VOLANTE, WYSE and GUTIERREZ: ‘School choice’ policies are associated with increased separation of students by social class

Louis Volante, Professor of Education at Brock University; Dominic Wyse, Professor of Education at University College London; and Gabriel Gutierrez, Postdoctoral Fellow at London School of Economics and Political Science, had a piece recently published in The Conversation about the issue of school choice in western industrialized democracies and its impact on equitable learning.

They write:

“Some commentators believe the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the need for parents to have more “school choice,” while others say the pandemic shows the urgency of new schooling models developed under school choice policies.

But what is school choice?

The language of school choice supports the idea that education funding should follow students to the schools they believe best fit their learning needs. Education is then managed according to the free-market dynamics of consumer choice.

 What this means is parents can choose among a variety of models that receive both state funds and financial support from personal and/or corporate sponsors. In the United States, and more recently in Canada, when people talk about “school choice” they’re often talking about how parents can or should be able to access funded or semi-funded school models like charter schools, school vouchers, home schooling or private schools. 

In England, academy schools, enabled under Tony Blair’s New Labour government, and more traditional grammar schools are selective schools that enable school choice. Both are a source of debate in terms of how effective they are for student outcomes and students’ social mobility.”

Continue reading the full article here.

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