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Citation:Diamond, J. B., & Gomez, K. (2004). African American parentsÕ educational orientations: The importance of social class and parentsÕ perceptions of schools. Education and Urban Society, 36(4), 383-427.

This study's purpose is to examine the differences between working-class and middle-class African American parents' educational orientations. The results indicated that middle-class African American parents were more likely to customize their children's education through school selection, tended to live closer to better schools, were more likely to send their children to magnet schools, and felt they should be able to select their children's schools. Working-class African American parents indicated that their children were more likely to attend schools with lower student outcomes and that they had less influence over which schools their children attended. These data were collected from interviews of working- and middle-class African American parents whose children attended public schools in Chicago. Both sets of parents participating in the study were self- or peer-identified as being actively involved in their children's schools. Parents were assigned to the working- or middle-class group by their educational background and employment status. This study suggests that school choice policies are not likely to improve the quality of education for children of working-class parents because they are less likely to take advantage of these opportunities. Though this study's sample was taken from a single geographical area and involved finitely defined study participants, it illustrates that beliefs are one of the contextual factors that can impact the viability of the school choice option. These parameters should be examined in other populations.

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