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Deciding factors in school choice among parents in the southwest United States

Della Cerra, Shawna Lynn (2021) Deciding factors in school choice among parents in the southwest United States. Doctoral thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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The purpose of the study was to explore the reasons why parents choose to send their children to schools, other than assigned neighborhood public schools, by identifying common values parents hold about charter schools that lead them to choose charter schools over their assigned public schools. Qualitative data collection was completed within a four-week time frame, with parent participants of students enrolled at a K-12, K-8, or 6-12 choice school within Maricopa County, Arizona. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Zoom interviews were conducted with the 16 participants, and a summary of surfaced themes was constructed from the parent participants’ responses to bear record of the overall factors in school choice among parents in the southwest United States. Research Question 1 addressed reasons parents are sending their children to “choice schools” rather than have them attend their neighborhood public school. Interview answers indicated enrollment decision was due to the influence of trusted individuals or groups of people, i.e., friends, colleagues, fellow church and family members, and even the school’s website. Another reason was because of matriculation from or children aging out of another school. Research Question 2 addressed the positive attributes of the choice school that influenced parents to enroll their children there. Positive attributes included educational aspects, school schedule, and online websites that included school ratings and test scores. Online websites were highly valued sources of information. Research Question 2a addressed the profound satisfaction parents had with their decision to enroll their children in the choice school. Due, in large part to school culture, participants were highly satisfied with their child(ren)’s enrollment in the choice schools. Participants of this study plan on continuing enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year. Regarding consequences parents have faced following enrolling their children in a choice school, participants indicated children are prepared for both higher learning and citizenship. The most identified theme was earning an associate’s degree prior to entering college. Positive feedback discussed attending schools, other than there assigned neighborhood school was a natural choice. Negative feedback came from family and neighbors, centered around participating in the decline of public education. Related to citizenship, participants shared how their children were gaining an understanding of the founding fathers, what the developing country was based on, expectations of them as citizens, and their civic duties.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Arizona Schools; Charter Schools; Educational Consumerism; Public Schools; School Choice; School Culture
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Education > Educational Leadership
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2022 18:30
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2022 18:30
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5745

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