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Citation:Holme, J. J. (2002). Buying homes, buying schools: School choice and the social construction of school quality. Harvard Educational Review, 72(2), 177-205. EJ648419.

This qualitative case study explores how privileged parents approach school choice. The author concluded that wealthy white parents did not make the decision to send their children to a particular school based on factual information about instruction, curriculum, student test data, or discipline. Instead, they relied on information obtained through their social networks about which schools are considered Ògood.Ó When describing the rationale for the choices they made, they often expressed concerns about the Òvalues and behavior of students in the schools they considered unacceptable.Ó These parents Òassumed the quality of the schools was directly associated with the (social and financial) status of the families they served.Ó This allowed the parents to rationalize their choice based on the quality of the school rather than overtly admitting their feelings towards the race or status of the students in the undesirable schools. The data for this study were collected through in-depth, open-ended interviews with 42 wealthy white parents from a large metro area surrounding a central city. It suggests that school choice is not necessarily the rational process that proponents of school choice infer that it is. This article may be helpful for practitioners interested in exploring issues of race and class in relation to parental involvement.

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