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The two fundamental questions of educational choice are whether parents and students should be given the central role in deciding what kind of education is appropriate, or whether the providers of education should be given the autonomy and flexibility to respond to differences in the judgments of consumers about what constitutes appropriate education. These questions of educational choice challenge the basic structure of locally centralized administration. The assumptions that parents are more likely to be satisfied with a school that they have chosen for their children, that students are more likely to work at schooling more seriously when they have chosen a school, and that teachers are more likely to enjoy work and make the necessary commitment for successful teaching when they have chosen the setting in which to work underlie the argument for increased choice in education. Although there is little evidence that greater choice for consumers and providers of education will dramatically change the school performance, there are substantial reasons for policymakers to consider initiating experiments in enhanced choice.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation joint note education series. The joint note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1986 to 1991 that included documents published jointly with other organizations, which reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.