For five years, the International School Choice and Reform Conference has developed a community of scholars who studied various forms of school choice and systemic reform. This includes scholarship on how school choice is enacted, the mechanisms that structure school choice programs, and both the individual and systemic outcomes of school choice and reform. The goal is connect scholars who engage in rigorous research about school choice in ways that illuminate current policy debates. The ISCRC is many things:
- The ISCRC is small enough that most participants are able to form lasting collaborations and, in many cases, lasting friendships. Unlike, for instance, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting with 15,000 attendees, the ISCRC annually attracts approximately 150 scholars and practitioners. The ambiance is intimate.
- To the greatest extent possible, ISCRC is a forum that includes multiple perspectives on every policy argument. Some of the research is more supportive of various forms of school choice while other research has a more critical stance. Still others favor one form of choice while opposing other forms of choice. They are connected by the goal of using quality research to shed light on how school choice policies actually work.
- The “I” in ISCRC is quite literal. Over the years, participation has come from many countries in Europe and in Asia and a number of our European colleagues are currently on the ISCRC Planning Committee. The issue of international comparisons is constantly emphasized.
- The ISCRC is fun. Its home has been Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and it is historically held on Martin Luther King weekend in mid-January. The 2018 ISCRC site at the Sonesta Hotel right across the street from the beach continues the attraction of warm scholarly conversation during the freezing winter months. Interestingly, actual attendance at sessions has historically been extremely high.
- The Conference is academically very sound, with a rigorous peer-review process led this year by Dr. Yongmei Ni of the University of Utah and Dr. Chris Torres of Michigan State University.
- Registrants attending from overseas are eligible for travel grants (historically US$1000-US$1200). Conference fees are kept as low as possible through the generosity of Corporate Sponsors and include bounteous breakfasts and elaborate evening receptions.