Choice in education has become a global phenomenon and is increasingly leading to consumer-oriented policies driven by parents and students demanding more from their schools.
This global phenomenon is effectively illustrated in a report entitled, “Schooling for Tomorrow: Demand-Sensitive Schooling? Evidence and Issues” published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international organization based in Paris that looks after governance challenges in a globalized economy. The report indicates that demand has become a global consideration in education reform because it acts to "[rectify] an excessively bureaucratic approach to education." The study is based on “different national reports” and includes data from Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, Hungary, Japan, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Spain, and the United States.
The report cites that increased demand is expressed at both the collective and individual levels, and that these levels interact to create greater choice within the system as the “demands for specific types of education from particular groups in society promote diversity which enhances [an] individuals’ room to choose.”
The study finds that increased demand has led to:
• a greater ability for parents to “choose the school they consider most appropriate for their children” by the abolition of district boundaries;
• “decentralization and [greater] school autonomy which encourages the development of specific school profiles,” like charter schools, that act to create “greater competition…and diversity;”
• more and better information for parents about their local schools, including school profiles and national test scores thereby making “[school] systems more transparent.”
Simply put, the study indicates that when “choices exist, schools must then look beyond their own walls at what others – their potential competitors – are doing.” Without choices, parents and students remain trapped in failing schools and educational institutions lack incentive to improve.