14 SES 09 A, Methodologies for Out-of-School Learning, Parenthood & Family Motivational Climate
Choosing the ‘right’ school is an important topic for urban, educated middle class parents who perceive school choice as a device to reproduce their economic, cultural and symbolic resources (Bourdieu 1983). As different studies show, education and school choice is important for middle class parents and is linked to segregation (e.g. Butler & Robson 2003, Förste 2013). Butler & Robson (2003) for the UK and Boterman (2012) for the Netherlands pointed out that middle class parents choose schools in a more distinctive way than e.g. working class parents involving a strategic choose of their residential neighbourhood. This leads to a “geography of school choice” and an increasing level of segregation (Förste 2013). Moreover Ball & Vincent (2007) show that in London some middle class parents have a habitus that is linked to a ‘commitment to diversity’ as well. So two fractions of middle class parents can be found in one neighbourhood: one group of parents that avoids and one that prefers inter-ethnic diversity (Ball & Vincent 2007).
Middle class parents with an open perspective on inter-ethnic diversity were focused in the study of Raveaud & van Zanten (2007) comparing Paris and London. They pointed out that parents with a high cultural capital, a caring perspective and liberal political orientation often find themselves in a dilemma: Living in a heterogeneous neighbourhood with (small) gentrified areas, two possible ways of school choice can be assumed:
1) Choosing the ‘best’ school with a low rate of social disadvantaged children or pupils with migration background. Good educational achievement and the best school environment for the child are in the focus of the parents. (“good parents”)
2) Choosing the local school with a high rate of social disadvantaged children or pupils with migration background. A society-oriented view linking to inclusion, integration and educational equality is in the focus of the parents. (“good citizens”)
For middle class parents this can lead to a dilemma that can be solved in different ways. Especially parents from London, who have chosen the local school, mentioned that education and knowledge can be compensated at home when the school isn’t able to do this. In the French case, parents tried to get their child tracked together with other middle class children e.g. in ‘music classes’ justifying this intra-school segregation with cultural preferences. A top-down bridging strategy was found in Paris as well: Principals of local schools tried to attract enough middle class children through a lot of initiatives and thus improving the school results, climate and reputation. As a consequence there is an increase of middle class parents and a more balanced school composition (Raveaud & van Zanten 2007).
Following these findings the paper examines how school choice is done by German middle class parents in Berlin. Additionally there is a focus on the role of private schools that had a strong increase in the last ten years in Germany (Statistisches Bundesamt 2015). This is relevant because private schools offer an ‘exit option’ for parents who don’t want to send their child to the local (public) primary school of the mandatory school catchment area.
In sum, the paper focuses on the following questions:
- What schools do parents choose in heterogeneous, disadvantaged neighbourhoods? Are they avoiding the local school by using exit options like private schools or special public schools that are attractive for middle class parents? Or do parents choose the local school promoting integration and educational equality?
- How do they justify their choice?
- Can the strategies of solving the dilemma that are found by Raveaud & van Zanten be seen in Germany as well?
Ball, S. & Vincent, C. (2007). Distinction, representation and identities among middle class fractions in London. In: T. Richard, S. Lamb & M. Duru-Bellat (ed.): International Studies in Educational Inequality, Theory and Policy. Springer, pp. 63-87. Boterman, W. R. (2012). Dealing with Diversity: Middle-class Family Households and the Issue of ‘Black’and ‘White’Schools in Amsterdam. Urban Studies: 1-18 Bourdieu, P. (1983). Ökonomisches Kapital, kulturelles Kapital, soziales Kapital. In: R. Kreckel (ed.): Soziale Ungleichheiten. Schwartz, pp. 183–198. Butler, T. & Robson, G. (2003). London Calling: The Middle Class and the Remaking of Inner London. Berg. Förste, D. (2013). Cheating the lottery… Correlations between a state regulated school system, access to high quality schooling and middle class school choice in Berlin. RC21 Conference. http://www.rc21.org/conferences/berlin2013/RC21-Berlin-Papers/32-1-Foerste.pdf Mayring, P. (2015). Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse. Beltz. Olszweski, L. & Sadovi, C. (2003). The rebirth of schools set for south side CHA and a-list of institutions have a big plan. The Chicago Tribune, 19.12.2003. Raveaud, M. & van Zanten, A. (2007). Choosing the local school: middle class parents’ values and social and ethnic mix in London and Paris. Journal of Education Policy, Vol. 22, No.1. pp. 107-124. Senatsverwaltung für Gesundheit und Soziales (2014). Handlungsorientierter Sozialstrukturatlas Berlin 2013. Ein Instrument der quantitativen, interregionalen und intertemporalen Sozialraumanalyse und –planung. Berlin. Statistisches Bundesamt (2015). Bildung und Kultur. Private Schulen. Schuljahr 2014/2015. Wiesbaden: Fachserie 11, Reihe 1.1. https://www.destatis.de/DE/Publikationen/Thematisch/BildungForschungKultur/Schulen/PrivateSchulen2110110157004.pdf
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