A Geographic Analysis of Public-Private School Choice in South Carolina, USA

International Journal of Applied Geospatial Research, Vol. 1, Issue 4, 2010

Haifeng Zhang, Lorin Anderson, David Cowen, and Lisle Mitchell

“Despite years of research and debate, household choice between public and private schools is not well understood. This article investigates factors associated with parental choice between public and private schools using unique census-based school enrollment data for school districts in South Carolina and for neighborhoods in the Columbia Metropolitan Area. This study extends the existing literature by examining patterns of public-private school choice for whites and blacks separately in order to control racial disparities in school choice. Results of multiple regression analyses for the whole population and subdivided racial groups generally support the assumption that public-private school enrollment rate is subject to socioeconomic status, racial proportion, and public school quality. Findings of this study not only suggests the reconciliation of the market-based theory and the racial preference theory, but also provides insights into education policies in terms of stemming white enrollment losses and fostering public school education in the United States.”