Choice, mobility, and place attachment: Minnesota's public school choice

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Choice, mobility, and place attachment: Minnesota's public school choice

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Relationships between place and people are complex because places become specific and unique as we build memories, share stories, accumulate histories. Therefore, mobility and place attachment are often placed in opposite discussions. Considering the daily life and limited resources of low-income families, however, the relationship between place and people can be a love and hate relationships and the discussion on mobility and place attachment are not straightforward. The current study explored how inner-city low-income families with school-age children experience school choice. Particularly, the study attempted to examine the Choice Is Yours program that allows school mobility with the help of transportation in order to support for low-income families in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The primary purpose of the current study was to develop a better understanding of how low-income families perceive choice, place, mobility, and place attachment using the theoretical frameworks of mobility and place attachment. To understand and interpret the meanings of their perception and experiences, a phenomenological study was employed and in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with the parents who participated the Choice Is Yours program. Conversations with the participants show that having choice allowed them not only to attain academic achievement but also to be aware of available resources, to grow ability to judge well, and to develop positive relationships with peers and school community. The participants expressed multi-layered emotions with places. Place attachment of the current study was associated with the experience of first-time homeownership, familiar and convenient environments, and close kin relationships that were located in the same neighborhood. This was related to moving decisions. Future study on the inclusion of non-choosers of the opportunity-based program in such neighborhoods would provide a better understanding the impact of choice and the perception of mobility and place attachment. This will broaden the discussion about the school choice program by connecting educational policy with housing policy.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. October 2014. Major: Design. Advisor: Professor Ann Ziebarth. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 193 pages, appendices A-D.

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Choi, Youngeun. (2014). Choice, mobility, and place attachment: Minnesota's public school choice. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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