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Choice Without Enthusiasm: Opportunity Hoarding and the School Choice Behaviors of Middle-Class Urban Parents

Sun, April 30, 2:15 to 3:45pm, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Floor: Meeting Room Level, Room 216 A


The robust scholarship on middle class parents’ attitudes and behaviors in the context of school choice has overlooked key questions about the relationship between such behaviors and the actual policies that may induce them. In this paper we bring together the concept of opportunity hoarding (Lewis & Diamond, 2015; Tilly, 1999) with education policy analysis to analyze the formal and informal policies associated with elementary and high school choice in New York City that result in middle class parents engaging in opportunity hoarding. We combine parents’ narrative accounts of their school choice behaviors, experiences and perspectives with policy analysis to reveal the tight linkage between policy and opportunity hoarding and consider policy changes to reduce the risks of such behaviors.