Parental choice in public and private education: The effect of magnet schools on local markets

Antoinette Goglia, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of consumer choice on public and private schools in two educational markets, one with no choice option in the public schools and one with a controlled choice model in the form of a magnet program. The research was conducted with a focus on vision, tone and discipline, programs, and parents to determine if choice had an influence on consumer and producer satisfaction. The approach used for this research was qualitative and involved eight elementary schools in two urban districts. Two public and two private schools were purposely selected from within the same geographic area. Teachers, principals, and parents were interviewed, documents were reviewed, and observations were scheduled as the primary methods of collecting data. The findings illustrate that visions in all the private schools and magnet schools were well defined and permeated all aspects of life while visions in the district with no public school choice were not an integral part of the way they functioned. Public school parents believed discipline had improved since the change to a magnet program while all private school parents linked orderliness, safety, and disciplined environments to school choices. All private and magnet schools appeared to develop programs and services reflective of student needs while the teacher contract limited extended-day activities in the public schools in the no choice district. Additionally, all parents in the private and magnet schools made school selections after a careful review of their options. Several conclusions were drawn from this research about choice in education. The magnet schools appeared to assume characteristics generic to the private schools in both districts. Furthermore, controlled choice in the form of magnet schools did not necessarily perpetuate competition at this time among the schools in the choice model or with the private schools in the local market. This study further shows that when schools are given more autonomy to develop programs and services, producers of education appear to be more satisfied, energized, and committed. In addition, all the private and magnet school parents appeared to be more involved and satisfied as a result of their ability to participate in school choice.

Subject Area

School administration|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Goglia, Antoinette, "Parental choice in public and private education: The effect of magnet schools on local markets" (1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9809004.