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NEPC Review

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Expanding Choice in Elementary and Secondary Education: A Report on Rethinking the Federal Role in Education presents a seemingly egalitarian prescription for the federal government to expand school choice. An examination of the arguments and evidence for increasing choice, however, reveals at least three important shortcomings. First, the authors tend to overuse research that is still in progress and research produced by advocacy organizations and think tanks, leading them to be overly optimistic about particular school choice reforms’ effects on educational achievement, access and equity. The second oversight is the neglect of important scholarship, causing the authors to fail to acknowledge the complex social and political dynamics informing parental choice processes as well as choice schools’ practices that limit and shape their student enrollments. A third shortcoming emerges from this omission: the authors do not sufficiently consider issues of diversity, including the social categories of race, ethnicity, special education, and English Learners. They fail to acknowledge that some school choice reforms have had segregative effects. As such, in the singular pursuit of their goal to universally expand school choice the authors miss an opportunity to affirm the federal role in ensuring the creation of diverse, equitable, and high-quality choice schools that would produce individual and societal benefits.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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