The School Choice Hoax
Fixing America's Schools
by Ronald G. Corwin, E. Joseph Schneider
August 2005, 256pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-98695-7
$84, £63, 73€, A114
eBook Available: 978-0-313-05026-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The School Choice Hoax re-directs the nation’s attention from the misleading hard sell for charter schools and education vouchers to the realities; rather than competing, choice schools and public schools should be cooperating to provide improved education across the spectrum.

This book argues that the autonomy granted to choice schools has been a counterproductive dead end. Its authors see no proof that freedom has produced the outstanding results that charter school advocates promised. Nor has the competition from charter schools spurred the improvement in public schools that charter advocates predicted. Instead, charter schools and education vouchers promoted competition among schools that should be cooperating. Overburdened public school districts are faced with rivalry from schools that are merely duplicating conventional programs and competing for some students while ignoring others. Since choice schools are not meeting the expectations touted by their advocates, the authors maintain that they should be planned, monitored, and operated by school districts.

The federal government is devoting millions of dollars to charter and voucher programs that currently require parents to abandon regular public schools. The goal of the authors of The School Choice Hoax is to expose the misleading hyperbole that has been driving the school choice movement and to show how charter schools can become more effective and useful to public school districts. Both authors have been following the school choice movement for over a decade. Together they bring to the topic an unusual blend of academic and practical knowledge derived from long, successful careers as a sociologist (Corwin) and former Deputy Executive Director of the American Association of School Administrators (Schneider). The authors have formed their conclusions from years of research and analysis and have devoted a great deal of attention to making sensible recommendations designed to make school choice models more useful to public schools. This book will be helpful to parents who are faced with the prospect of making choice work better.

The authors’ conclusions have been carefully drawn from, and documented with, current research derived from years of neutral observation. Throughout, the book is packed with observations about school choice that will inform parents, politicians, and other community members about the advantages and disadvantages of choice schools. The authors offer explanations that will help the average citizen understand and appraise overblown claims by advocates. They also provide detailed reviews of other reforms, some of which are already infused in existing choice models.


"As the debate about the effects of school choice policies rages on, Corwin and Schneider offer a pragmatist's solution to the school choice hoax. These two Washington insiders argue that the public has been deceived by false promises that suggest the nation's worst schools will be fixed by school choice. They point to evidence that suggests the choice movement has not, and cannot, fix US schools. Rather than reject school choice altogether, the authors argue for vouchers and charter schools (two popular and contentious forms of choice) to be combined into an integrated approach. This approach, which would put choice schools under the supervision of districts, would draw on the lessons learned from older reforms that have demonstrated success: the small schools initiatives, school-based management, magnets, networks of schools, and specialized alternative schools. Corwin and Schneider bring together insights and arguments that have been advanced on both sides of the choice debate..... General readers and practitioners."—Choice, March 1, 2006

"The authors have advanced a novel, persuasive argument for a new and unique use of charter schools within school districts in ways that could make them model schools. This is must-reading for school administrators who are grappling with issues presented by disparities between schools in their districts and searching for equitable solutions that will make their districts shine."—Anne Turnbaugh Lockwood, Author of The Charter Schools Decade

"Based on an honest and well researched description of education for poor children in this country, the authors have recommended strategies for systemic change to solve the problem. If you're really serious about closing the achievement gap, you have to read this book."—Joseph J. Cirasuolo, Ed.D., Past President--AASA
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