Look into Rick Hess' review of new book exploring the consumerism of the parents of DC's Opportunity Scholarship program in Edweek. There is very little research being done into what parents care about when they do have educational options for their children since choices are so hard to come by within public education. Here's a bit from the article:
Fortunately, this slender book uses an array of surveys, focus groups, and interviews to dig into the key questions. Stewart and Wolf offer a terrific framework for thinking about the nature of choice. When it comes to the different relationships that public agencies can have with program participants, the authors distinguish between clientism, consumerism, and active citizenship. Clientism treats individuals as simple recipients, placing little emphasis on soliciting feedback from participants. They argue that this is the typical relationship of low-income parents to schools.
Stewart and Wolf find that the process of participating in the DC scholarship program led many parents into a new trajectory, one in which they started to approach schools as consumers. Before the program, most participating families had never ventured outside their neighborhood schools to explore other educational opportunities. They'd never had the chance or the need to evaluate schools, ask questions, or take actions (like filling out applications or visiting schools) that involved them in the process. Few had ever even bought houses or cars, and had little experience with comparing services or providers. In the course of the program, parents developed more awareness of the need to compare schools, interest in the data that allows them to, and self-confidence in their ability to do so.