BOULDER, CO (March 16, 2023) – In this month’s episode of NEPC Talks Education, Christopher Saldaña discusses school choice policy and its impacts on student outcomes, teacher recruitment and retention, and leadership practices with Huriya Jabbar, professor of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Texas at Austin.
Jabbar begins this month’s podcast by walking listeners through the complexity of school choice policy. She explains that while the idea of school choice invokes notions of parents and families selecting their preferred schools, it involves challenges related to accessing schools and can be implemented through a host of different policies, including open enrollment, homeschooling, charter schools, vouchers, or educational savings accounts.
Jabbar explains that despite growing popularity in recent years, there is little, if any, evidence that choice policies, in general, positively impact student outcomes in ways that can address longstanding inequities. She points out that contexts matter. In certain contexts choice policies have shown some gains, but in other places they have negatively impacted students, families, teachers, and leaders. For example, Jabbar explains that choice proponents often argue that choice policies will address the racial and socioeconomic segregation of schools by breaking the link between where students reside and where they go to school. The claims of choice advocates notwithstanding, the evidence available supports the conclusion that currently, choice policies often do more to exacerbate segregation than alleviate it.
Jabbar recommends that policymakers implement regulations that ensure students from marginalized groups have genuine access to schools and require that all schools—choice schools and K-12 public schools—meet standards that ensure that they provide all students with high-quality learning opportunities. She notes that these regulations and safeguards will be increasingly important as state policymakers and school district leaders continue to promote and pursue choice policies around the country.
A new NEPC Talks Education podcast episode, hosted by Christopher Saldaña, will be released each month from September through May.
Don’t worry if you miss a month. All episodes are archived on the NEPC website and can be found here.