Spring 2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Sarah J. Noonan

Second Advisor

Chien-Tzu Candace Chou

Third Advisor

Karen L. Westberg


School choice, which allows families to enroll their children in public education programs outside of their neighborhood attendance area, has increased in size and scope in suburban communities. This qualitative, case study examined the factors influencing why and how 15 families chose to pursue a choice option for their children’s elementary school experience, and also describes their subsequent levels of satisfaction with regard to their experience. Parents described how perceptions of their school district brought them to the local community, and then shaped their opinions regarding high and low performing schools in their community. Once enrolled in the choice program, parents reported high levels of satisfaction with the school choice program. Parents also described the frustrations associated with enrolling their children in choice programs, including convenience factors and conflict with neighbors regarding their decision to enroll their children in a non-neighborhood school.

Bolman and Deal’s (2013) frame theory was used as an overarching theoretical framework to interpret school choice decisions and consequences through symbolic, political, human resource, and structural lenses. Additionally, Dewey’s philosophy of education explained the role of public education as both an individual and social good. Critical pedagogy was adopted to examine the social consequences of school choice in public education, providing educational and social advantage for some, while continuing disadvantage for others.

Parents sought an educational advantage for their children by enrolling them in a choice program. Their collective actions signify what parents desire from public education – a good school in a safe neighborhood. Recommendations were provided for professional practice regarding ways to implement school choice, and advice regarding how to ensure more equitable access to choice programs by disadvantaged families.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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