Ch. 1 - Doing Their Homework: How Charter School Parents Make Their Choices (HFR '06)

December 2006

This year's edition of Hopes, Fears, & Reality explores the broad realities of the present-day charter school movement. In this chapter Paul Teske and Robert Reichardt report the results from a new multi-city survey that examines how low-income parents choose charter schools. The authors present new data that compares the selection strategies of parents who choose charter schools to the strategies of parents who elect non-charter choices for their children. Using data from Denver, Washington, D.C., and Milwaukee, the authors show that low-income families who choose charter schools use strategies very like those used by families considering private and suburban schools. Among other important findings, the authors' careful research debunks the stereotype of charter parents as ill-informed consumers who are led unwittingly to charter schools.