The Perceptions of Private and Suburban Public Schools among Middle Class Urban Parents: Evidence from Albany, New York

Paul T. Knudson 1 *

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp. 23-41

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Substantial research has examined urban middle class parents and their motivations for enrolling their children in city public schools. Less research, however, has explored how these types of parents view private schools and suburban public schools. Using in-depth interviews with parents and guided by the frameworks of rational choice and social identity theories, this paper explores this topic. Findings suggest that both instrumental and philosophical factors affect parents’ perceptions of private schools and suburban public schools. Parents tended to be skeptical of the purported, superior quality of education in both private and suburban public schools. They also felt these schools offered neither advantages surrounding the social/peer climate, nor in college preparation. In addition, parents believed that enrolling their children in either private schools or suburban public schools would undermine their egalitarian and inclusive social and political values.

Keywords: Urban Education, Schools, School Choice, Private and Suburban Public Schools.