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Do Private Schools Force Public Schools to Compete?

Richard Arum
American Sociological Review
Vol. 61, No. 1 (Feb., 1996), pp. 29-46
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2096405
Page Count: 18
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Do Private Schools Force Public Schools to Compete?
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Abstract

Since the 1980s, public policy analysts and sociologists of education have increasingly focused on differences in school performance between public and private schools, but ignored the effect on public school student performance of the wide variation among states in the size of the private school sector. I demonstrate that public school students in states with large private school sectors have improved educational outcomes. Contrary to assumptions underlying the school-choice movement, however, the improved performance of public school students is not the result of increased organizational efficiency, but instead is the product of increased resources provided to public schools. The state thus takes an active role in protecting public sector providers. Institutional forces of inertia are less salient predictors of organizational behavior than are dynamic political processes and public school resource dependency on state financial sources of support.

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