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What Do America’s “Traditional” Forms of School Choice Teach Us about School Choice Reforms

By Caroline M. Hoxby


The majority of U.S. states are currently considering or have recently passed reforms that increase the ease with which parents can choose a school for their children (Tucker and Lauber 1995). At first view, these reforms seem to take elementary and secondary education into wholly unknown territory. Yet this view neglects the fact that choices made by American parents have traditionally been an important force in determining the education their children receive. Parents ’ ability to choose among fiscally independent public school districts (through residential decisions) and to choose private schools (by paying tuition) is such an established feature of American education that it is almost taken for granted. Yet, through these choices, American parents exercise more control over their children’s schooling than do many of their European counterparts. Of Caroline M. Hoxby is an associate professor of economics at Harvard University and a faculty research fellow of the National Bureau o

Year: 1998
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