Using Cooper’s (2005) framework of positioned school choice, and its orientation towards providing a more nuanced and inclusive view of how social power and privilege shape and legitimize school choice decisions, this basic interpretive qualitative study (Merriam, 2009) traces how four Black mothers and their eighth-grade daughters chose their high schools. We find the daughters largely controlled the application process and made the final selections of schools. Mothers played a facilitative role, providing their daughters with information from their social networks while supporting their daughters’ independent goal-setting and decision-making. The study thus illustrates how school choice decisions for Black girls are fundamentally shaped by Black “motherwork” (Cooper, 2007). Our findings both extend current research on school choice by centering the experiences and decision-making approaches of Black families residing in urban, low-income, and segregated communities and open possibilities for more culturally relevant and aligned interventions to support these families as well as to reform school choice processes to be more inclusive and just.
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