School Choice Has Limits

Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 04:00 AM

(Patricia Willens)

A key element of education reform in New York City over the past decade has been the expansion of school choice at all grade levels - and it’s been successful at shifting many students to better-performing schools.  But an education marketplace isn’t without consequences, as five education experts explore in the second EdForum online debate.

It's a complicated process to navigate. Close to 80,000 students apply to New York City public high schools each year, seeking a seat at one of the more than 700 programs. And that is just high school. Research has found that there are fewer seats available at good schools than poor ones.  And more choice has led to increased academic stratification in the schools. 

Read what Lori Nathanson, Jeff Henig, James Merriman, Aaron Pallas, and Saskia Levy Thompson have to say about the pros and cons of choice in New York City. Their online debate was sponsored by the Education Funders Research Initiative at Philanthropy New York. 

And don't forget: SchoolBook will be moderating a live twitter chat on narrowing the achievement gap in New York City on Friday, from 12-1 pm.  It's the first in a series of #WhatWorks live chats. Submit your questions by tweeting @EDFundersRI with the #whatworks hashtag or email



Patricia Willens


Comments [1]

Norm Fruchter

Some 36,000 late-enrolling high school students, commonly labeled "over-the-counter" or OTC students, are placed in NYC high schools every year. An Annenberg Institute study has found that most of these students are placed in struggling high schools, a policy that benefits neither the students not the schools. Most of those placements depend on where there are available seats in the high school system. Since the high school choice/selection process rewards academic achievement, socio-economic status and the capacity to choose strategically and knowledgeably, almost no seats are left in the more desirable schools for OTC students. Only a controlled choice process that introduced elements of equity can resolve this problem.

Oct. 24 2013 08:55 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.