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School choice and institutional legitimacy: Understanding the demand for public and private schools in Chile’s voucher system

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Abstract:

The work presented in this paper was the first comprehensive, in-deep qualitative study done in Chile with the specific focus of studying the process of parental school choice: how families from different social classes understand educational quality, what sources and kind of observations they make to judge schools, and what reasons and strategies they enact when choosing between public and private-voucher schools. As a result of Chile's 1980 nationwide voucher reform there has been a steady increase in private schools enrollment vis-à-vis public schools, although previous quantitative research shows that private schools are not more effective in terms of academic performance once family background and peers are controlled. The paper seeks to answer the following question: If data shows that both kinds of schools are technically similar in terms of the quality of the education provided, then why families think that private schools are so much better for their children, massively moving away from public schools? Using interviews and focus groups with parents and students conducted in 2009, we find that social networks transmit normative preferences that influence parental choice for schools with higher social status. Higher symbolic legitimacy of private schooling, rather than their actual effectiveness, drives parental choice in Chile. These results add new evidence to growing international concerns about increasing inequality that could arise as a result of school choice policies.
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Association:
Name: 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society
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http://www.cies.us


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p493910_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Salinas, Daniel. "School choice and institutional legitimacy: Understanding the demand for public and private schools in Chile’s voucher system" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 01, 2011 <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p493910_index.html>

APA Citation:

Salinas, D. R. , 2011-05-01 "School choice and institutional legitimacy: Understanding the demand for public and private schools in Chile’s voucher system" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 55th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Fairmont Le Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, Quebec, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p493910_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: The work presented in this paper was the first comprehensive, in-deep qualitative study done in Chile with the specific focus of studying the process of parental school choice: how families from different social classes understand educational quality, what sources and kind of observations they make to judge schools, and what reasons and strategies they enact when choosing between public and private-voucher schools. As a result of Chile's 1980 nationwide voucher reform there has been a steady increase in private schools enrollment vis-à-vis public schools, although previous quantitative research shows that private schools are not more effective in terms of academic performance once family background and peers are controlled. The paper seeks to answer the following question: If data shows that both kinds of schools are technically similar in terms of the quality of the education provided, then why families think that private schools are so much better for their children, massively moving away from public schools? Using interviews and focus groups with parents and students conducted in 2009, we find that social networks transmit normative preferences that influence parental choice for schools with higher social status. Higher symbolic legitimacy of private schooling, rather than their actual effectiveness, drives parental choice in Chile. These results add new evidence to growing international concerns about increasing inequality that could arise as a result of school choice policies.


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