The Political Perspective on School Choice

Authored by: Patrick J. Wolf

Handbook of Research on School Choice

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815381464
eBook ISBN: 9781351210447
Adobe ISBN:


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The politics of school choice in the United States often is simplistically and inaccurately portrayed as pitting Republicans against Democrats and White people against people of color. The political reality is much more nuanced. This chapter discusses three identifiable policy coalitions in favor of universal and largely unfettered parental choice, limited/controlled choice, or strict residential assignment to public schools. It then describes seven thematic divides surrounding school choice and the research that informs them that vary across the three coalitions. The themes are 1) philosophy, 2) ideology, 3) primary value, 4) primary concern, 5) partisan leanings, 6) public popularity, and 7) supportive constituencies. It concludes with a brief discussion about how the recent Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Supreme Court ruling might alter the politics of school choice.

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