Term of Award

Fall 2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Julie Garlen Maudlin

Committee Member 1

Meca Williams-Johnson

Committee Member 2

Hsiu-Lien Lu

Committee Member 3

Ronald J. Wiggins

Abstract

This study was conducted to identify public school graduates perceptions regarding school choice options and their preparedness for success after high school. This is accomplished by presenting a historical and contextual overview of education as it specifically relates to low socioeconomic and minority populations. It analyzes governmental controls that may serve to restrict access to a quality education. This study seeks to promote equity through education as viewed through a social justice perspective. While governmental mandates, societal changes, and legal remedies have evolved and shaped America's education history, it has yet to fully empower parents and guardians to freely choose their children's K-12 public education. Research shows this condition can lead to isolation, oppression, and various forms of inequity for poorer parents and their children. This study triangulates qualitative and quantitative data of student perceptions from a mini-focus group of five young adults from southeastern public schools to gauge their observations six years removed from their high school graduations and filtered through their life experiences in post-secondary education and the workplace. Moreover, students detail how school choice options benefited them and how they believe the widespread availability of school choices may significantly improve public school outputs and achievement opportunities for future generations of all populations of people. The four anticipated themes in this research are: future educational aspirations and goals; perceptions of support by the school; student learning and peer interaction; and citizenship and democratic principles. The findings of this study document that the five graduates participating in this study favorably reflect on their public high school experiences; yet they decry oppressive school attendance zone policies as having negative impacts on low socioeconomic, minority students to include their prospects for economic and/or social mobility later in life. The graduates favor implementing school choice options because they believe it will improve K-12 education in America for all students from all economic and ethnic backgrounds - including their own.

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