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Educational Delusions?Why Choice Can Deepen Inequality and How to Make Schools Fair$
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Gary Orfield and Erica Frankenberg

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780520274730

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520274730.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

School Information, Parental Decisions, and the Digital Divide

School Information, Parental Decisions, and the Digital Divide

The SmartChoices Project in Hartford, Connecticut

(p.219) 10 School Information, Parental Decisions, and the Digital Divide
Educational Delusions?

Jack Dougherty

Diane Zannoni

Maham Chowhan

Courteney Coyne

Benjamin Dawson

Tehani Guruge

Begaeta Nukic

University of California Press

This chapter examines how urban parents navigate the growth of public school choice policies and information on the internet. We created SmartChoices, a public school search tool for the Hartford, Connecticut, region; conducted parent workshops (with hands—on instruction in English and Spanish) to narrow the digital divide; and collected quantitative and qualitative data to investigate how SmartChoices influenced parents’ decision—making processes. Based on our small sample of ninety—three workshop participants, we found that two—thirds either clarified or changed their top—ranked school after using the website. Furthermore, several also found what they defined as “better” schools (with higher test scores or more racially balanced student populations) that were located closer to their neighborhoods than their initial top—rated choices. But making information more widely available is not a neutral act, as some parents used our search tool to avoid schools with high concentrations of students from racial groups other than their own. Overall, this study contributes to the scholarly literature that views school choice as a double—edged sword, with potentially positive outcomes for some families and negative consequences for others left behind.

Keywords:   school choice, digital divide, internet, parent involvement, urban schools, race, test scores

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