Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Educational Studies and Human Rights Studies

First Advisor

Daniel Douglas

Second Advisor

Jack Dougherty


Traditional public schools in Connecticut have been pushed out by newer options since the landmark Sheff vs. O’Neill decision, which called for the development of magnet schools. The influx of magnet schools to Connecticut has caused traditional preschools like the Trinity College Community Child Center (TC4) to experience more competition and lose potential enrollees and revenue. For this project, I sought to discover how the growth of magnet pre-k programs has influenced how families choose schools for their 3-to-5-year-old children. I analyzed data from the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood, the Connecticut State Department of Education and conducted 10 semi-structured interviews with current and former TC4 parents to investigate how they choose pre-k programs for their children and understand their preschool options. Parents generally expressed that they would send their children to a traditional public school if it was more convenient, but others saw those programs as under-resourced and/or underperforming. Overall, parents could identify issues within the magnet system but still opted for magnet schools in order to do what they thought was best for their children’s future. The results show that parents are generally more pragmatic than idealistic when it comes to choosing schools for their children. Even with education conceived as a public good that should be equally accessible to all, parents participate within perceived unequal schooling options if it is best for their children. The school choice framework thus limits education’s impact on social inequality.


Senior project completed at Trinity College, Hartford, CT for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Educational Studies and Human Rights Studies.