Choice and values in schooling

19 May 2011

School choice has been a divisive issue in education policy for a long time, often the subject of heated debate based more on ideology than evidence.

In pursuing choice policies, governments seek to raise the level of student achievement, reflect the diverse values of parents, and allow for religious and educational difference.

Choice is supported by proponents of a free market approach to public policy, as a way of improving performance and increasing innovation and efficiency. Support for choice is also influenced by neoliberal thinking which favours concepts of individual freedom, personal responsibility and choice over state monopoly in the provision of public services. The appropriateness of centralised and bureaucratically delivered services in a modern economy is increasingly questioned. Choice and competition in public services, including schooling, are expected to bring extra pressure for performance, raising quality, increasing efficiency and contributing to the well-being of the population by allowing individuals greater freedom and control over their own lives.

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