Quality Above All Else? Examining Whites’ School Choice Decisions

Rebecca Bielamowicz , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The number of educational options available to families has grown substantially over the past 25 years, and this proliferation of school choice options raises important questions about how parents select schools for their children, and what effect these choices have on school segregation. Are Whites’ school choice decisions racially motivated, or do they reflect a desire to avoid low-performing schools, many of which are majority poor and non-White? I use a conjoint survey experiment to test between the racial proxy and pure race hypotheses. I find that Whites are less likely to choose the hypothetical school for their child as the percent of Black students enrolled in the school increases, net of many indicators of school quality and other characteristics parents likely weigh in their search for schools (e.g., distance from home).

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 Presented in Session 124. Flash Session: Causes and Consequences of Educational Inequalities