School Choice Matters
Penury is the main cause of disparity in the quality of the schools. People who live in poor neighborhoods tend to be less educated and less successful. The parents in these neighborhoods do not grasp the high importance of education on ones well being. They suffer from financial and cultural problems. The parents do not expect academic achievement from their children. The schools in these neighborhoods are packed with students who do not care about their performance at all. The parents do not hold their children liable. If the majority of students just came to school for socializing, then the school is certain to lose its educational role. Even students who outperform academically would be doomed to achieve less because the school does not provide an educational environment anymore. School choice greatly affects the academic performance of students. School choice do not matter because of the quality of the school's education, it matters because of the educational environment which the school provides.
School choice ties directly to socio-economic status. Neighborhoods are classified by socio-economic classes. Schools of higher social status neighborhoods will more likely have stronger PTA committees. The parents in these neighborhoods are more likely to have higher levels of education and hold their children liable for their academic performance (153). A school's quality is connected to the families of the students who attend the school. Higher class neighborhood children are pressured to excel in school so they can hold their socioeconomic status. These students define the school's quality. The reason school choice matter is not the school itself as much as the content of the school. “The Chicago public schools lottery show that the students who win the lottery to attend an A school do not do any better than those who lose the lottery. Students who compete for the A schools are committed ones who are seeking to improve their success rate by attending a better school” (144).
Higher quality schools are often found in higher economic neighborhoods. An FCAT study done by Krista Fracke, a real state company, shows the FCAT test scores and school grades by location. Duval County was included in the study. Most of Duval County's A schools were either located in the south or the east sides of the county. These sides of the county are predominantly inhabited by a white population and most of them are of middle and upper classes. The study does not prove the schools in these neighborhoods are better simply because of their predominantly white population. The students who attend such schools in these neighborhoods have better resources at home. They are raised in a culture where education is most emphasized. The students are aware of their need for good education to be successful later in life. These schools maintain an educational environment, which in turn helps students to be focused on their education.
Most of the failing schools are found in poor neighborhoods. The schools in poor neighborhoods do not have a good educational environment. The students in these schools are the main cause for the bad quality, and the parents of the students do not emphasize education. The culture in these neighborhoods does not link success and education, which makes students think of school just as a waste of their time. The FCAT study done by Krista Fracke shows most of the failing schools in Duval County are in the west and north sides of the county. These sides of the county are predominantly inhabited by a black population. In poor neighborhoods, where most of the adults have not obtained higher education, the odds that parents will emphasize education are low. Students are not expected to excel in schools. The students do not expect from their peers to excel, and an outperforming students will be singled out in an environment where education is not prioritized. Kareem Abdul Jabbar recalls what he had experienced in grade school as result of his performance “I found myself being punished for every thing I would ever been taught was right” (146). Students do not achieve less because who they are, but because of the condition of the school and the socioeconomic conditions (151).
School choice matters in the academic performance of the child, and it will give students who are committed to perform academically a chance to study in a good educational environment. The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS) done by the U.S Department of Education shows that a school's choice has a clear impact on the academic progress of the student (151). In A schools, the majority of students are there for educational purposes, and even the students who underachieve are pressured by the success of their peers. In an environment where academic success is expected and emphasized, it is only natural for the students to succeed academically. Human beings are greatly influenced by their surroundings whether it is in society or simply at school. Great schools with excelling students will definitely influence underachieving students positively.
Levitt D. Steven, Dubner J. Stephen. Freakonomics. New York: HarperCollins, 2005
Krista Fracke FCAT Study; <http://www.kristafracke.com/idxschools.php#>