SCHOOL CHOICE, COMPETITION, AND MARKETING PUBLIC SCHOOLS: A MIXED METHODS STUDY OF A LARGE DIVERSE SUBURBAN SCHOOL DISTRICT IN TEXAS
Foust, Mark J.
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Nationally, competition among school systems has existed for decades through school choice, open enrollment, and voucher programs. These concepts were foreign to the Texas public school system until the late 20th century. Because of an increase in competition and school choice, enrollment and state funding for public school districts in Texas may be in jeopardy. This study identified the impact of school choice, competition, and marketing in a large diverse suburban school district in Texas. The study used descriptive data and determined there was an observable loss in enrollment for the district to competing educational systems during the three years studied, 2010-2013. The research also employed interviews to determine the perceptions of district leaders regarding the marketization of education and to determine if school leaders intentionally marketed their schools to enhance or maintain enrollment. The study revealed the perception of school leaders regarding competition with other educational systems that are offered in the geographic area and the perception of school leaders regarding competition with other schools within the district. The research revealed that the district lost enrollment, and consequently, state funding to competing educational systems from 2010 to 2013 and that school leaders did not perceive that there was a loss of enrollment to competing systems. The study also found that school leaders did not market their schools and school district to address the loss of enrollment to increased competition. The results of this study have shown how one large diverse suburban school district was impacted and have added to the knowledge base regarding competition, school choice, and the marketization of educational systems in Texas. The implication for public school districts in Texas is that school leaders should recognize the need to market their schools or school district to enhance or maintain student enrollment in an environment of school choice and competition.
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