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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About School Choice

Have you ever wondered what research has to say about what happens to traditional public schools when new schools of choice open nearby? How much does it cost to start up and maintain a charter school? Do other countries have public-private forms of schooling similar to U.S. charter schools?

These are among the questions addressed in the new Handbook of Research on School Choice. The hefty, 630-page tome is a first-of-its-kind compilation of research syntheses on a wide variety of forms of school choice, including home schools, charters, private schools, magnets, and virtual schools.

It was pulled together by the National Center on School Choice, a consortium based at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. The center is one of the 10 national research centers that the federal Institute of Education Sciences underwrites.

Center scholars enlisted leading academics with a range of perspective on school-choice issues to pen the book's 34 chapters. Where else would you find Amy Stuart Wells, a Teachers College, Columbia University, researcher who has long written on inherent social inequities in school-choice initiatives, writing alongside Paul Peterson, a Harvard University scholar known for his support of private-school vouchers?

Mark Berends, one of the volume's editors, said his hope is that the range of scholarly opinion will give the book "an independent kind of voice" on some of the most prickly debates in education.

In next week's print edition of EdWeek, I'll have an article on one chapter in the book that describes international versions of charter-style schooling. (See an earlier post I wrote on this same research here.) But, if you want to go straight to the source, you can find ordering information for the $114 volume here.

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