Rethinking Public and Private: Parents and Distinctive Schools of Choice
Terri Wilson

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Southern Illinois University

Primary Discipline

School choice increases both the number and the kinds of choices available to families. Schools of choice often self-consciously distinguish their unique approaches from traditional public schools. These distinctive schools draw families into new communities around shared interests and preferences. At the same time, these schools also sort students along lines of race, class, language and lines of difference. How should we balance the interests of families in choosing distinctive schools—especially ones that affirm ethnic, linguistic or cultural identities—against arguments for a common, integrated school system? I explore this question in two ways. First, through a qualitative cross-case analysis of three distinctive schools, I illuminate the moral, ethical and political reasoning employed by parents who choose such school communities. Second, through philosophical analysis, I position these reasons in conversation with normative claims about the legitimacy of such school spaces.
About Terri Wilson

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