Over a decade of aggressive “school choice” policies for New York City high school students haven’t closed the gap in graduation rates between students from wealthy families and students living in poverty.
“The well-known link between a student’s neighborhood conditions and educational outcomes is as strong as ever,” said Sarah Burd-Sharps ofMeasure of America, which conducted the analysis.
For the past twelve years, New York City eighth graders have had no assigned high school. Instead of relying on established feeder patterns and neighborhood-based assignments, students enter into a city-wide ‘choice’ process, where they are placed by lottery (or by application, for the selective high schools) into one of up to twelve schools that interest them.
It’s all well and good for families to be able to choose a specific type of educational experience. But it's unclear why some policymakers and advocates believe that the simple act of being able to choose will somehow improve all schools—or help students overcome myriad disadvantages that have nothing to do with their schools.
Even if “choice” could make that difference, it's highly unlikely that the neediest students would get the most benefit. Parents who work one or more hourly-wage jobs will have less time to attend multiple open houses, set up interviews, and everything else helps people make the most informed choice.
There’s also the issue of fatigue—both in the selection process and in the day-to-day routine. Once again, parents who work multiple jobs, as well as students who have jobs or care for