“I Just Didn’t Want to Risk It”: How Perceptions of Risk Motivate Charter School Choice Among Latinx Parents

This qualitative study by Julia Szabo investigates why parents of Latinx/Hispanic students, who take up the largest share of charter school students nationwide, choose charter schools over traditional public schools. Through in-depth interviews with parents who recently chose to send their children to one Houston-area charter school, the author examines how Latinx/Hispanic parents conceptualize risks associated with leaving district schools given the historical and contemporary inequality and discrimination Latinx/Hispanic students face in U.S. schools. The interviews reveal that parents feel that traditional public schools are risky because of discrimination their children and they themselves experienced in the district elementary and middle schools. In addition, parents had negative perceptions of future opportunities within district high schools, which were driven by parents who went to the schools themselves and by stories from friends, family, and the media.

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