School Choice: A Case Study on the Boston Public Schools.
Hirsch, Cleo L.
- This paper makes a detail-oriented, historically based assessment of the school choice policies for high school students in the Boston Public School System (BPS). Because the school choice debate is inseparable from the historical and current realities of the opportunity gap, which is a racially stratified phenomenon, this study focuses on the way in which school choice breaks down across race and ... read moreeffects racial segregation. The central questions this paper seeks to answer are: How does the implementation of school choice in Boston match some of its stated and implicit goals, particularly in relation to race? In practice, is the current district-wide, mandatory choice program a promoter of, or detractor from the city_ï¿½_s goal of creating a thriving urban school system that provides equal education opportunity for all students? These questions are answered through an analysis of the history of school choice in the United States and the current national debate on choice, as well as the local history of choice in Boston and the school choice programs used by the Boston Public Schools. Within this case study, a statistical analysis of segregation under the current choice program finds that choice is not creating a more integrated portfolio of high schools in Boston than neighborhood-based assignment would. Furthermore, this study finds that the complexities of the current choice system are creating barriers to equal access and opportunity. Based on the findings of this case study, the paper concludes with relevant policy suggestions for the BPS as they move to reform the school choice processes in the following years, as well as a discussion of the questions that are left to be answered as the BPS moves forward with their school choice program./read less