The Case Against School Choice: Politics, Markets and Fools / Edition 1

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Public school choice is a policy gaining wide popular and political support. Spurred by perceptions of an education system in crisis, proponents of school choice argue that an education marketplace will produce better schools. Give students and parents choice, these advocates claim, and schools will be forced to improve or close. The promise of a choice-based system, however, is largely unfulfilled. Despite all the rhetoric, the successes of existing choice systems are questionable, and the theories and assumptions that provide intellectual support for choice have never been systematically tested. This book provides that test. Professors Smith and Meier show that a choice-based system will not improve American education. Choice theorists have exaggerated the decline in educational performance and misidentified its causes. Their proposed market cure is modeled on unfounded assumptions. Persuasive though it may sound, the school choice argument is demonstrably false and misleading. And what is worse, it is likely to promote racial, religious, and socio-economic segregation.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Political scientists Smith and Meier offer compelling arguments, supported by both anecdotal and empirical evidence, to convince readers that school choice does nothing to improve the quality of education. The authors begin with interviews with students, parents and faculty in Milwaukee schools, and near the end of their research present global comparisons, all pointing to their conclusion that ``school choice theorists have misidentified the problems with the education system.... Their proposed cures are likely to reduce equity without improving performance. Public choice in education simply does not work.'' In the meantime, they say, ``the real problems threatening educationpoverty, disintegrating families, and lack of public supportare being ignored.'' Their recommendations are controversial and include a top-down, macro-level approach to education and a careful avoidance of special interests: ``No single demand drives education.'' Solidly researched and written, Smith's and Meier's effort should sway those still undecided on the issue, although staunch advocates of such choice will more likely be incensed by the book's claim that ``the reality of education seems to be much messier'' than they pretend. (June)
Without claiming impartiality or disinterestedness, political scientists (U. of Nebraska) isolate the central theory of school choice from the ideological debate now raging around it, draw up a list of provable hypotheses from it, and test those hypotheses empirically. Even if they chose their title first, they use standard methodologies to buttress their argument that allowing school choice would seriously harm education in the US. They confine their statistical data to appendices to keep the text readable for the interested public and policy makers. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781563245206
  • Publisher: Sharpe, M. E. Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/24/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 182
  • Product dimensions: 5.95 (w) x 8.95 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Tables
Ch. 1 The Hobgoblins of Education Policy 1
Ch. 2 Problems, Solutions, and Choices 15
Ch. 3 The Institutional Theory: School Choice Revisited 32
Ch. 4 Organization, Competition, and Performance 47
Ch. 5 Private Schools: The Chicken or the Egg? 64
Ch. 6 Politics and Performance 80
Ch. 7 Fixin' What Ain't Broke: Education Performance in the 1980s 93
Ch. 8 Choice across the Borders 107
Ch. 9 Conclusion 121
Ch. 10 Epilogue: Last Choice 132
Appendix: Statistical Tables 141
References 155
Index 161
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