Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Judith Kafka

Subject Categories

Education Policy | Elementary Education | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Urban Studies


school choice, Caribbean immigrants, parents, culture, Brooklyn


For the over 3 million immigrants of New York City, the education system is one of the many areas they must navigate in their transition to the United States (MOIA annual Report, 2018). However, for the Caribbean immigrant navigating the school system is especially hard. Of the five boroughs in New York City, Brooklyn has the second-largest immigrant population with approximately 28% of the immigrants in the borough from the Caribbean. The 2018 United States Census shows that Caribbean immigrants account for about 258000 of the approximately 900000 immigrants in Brooklyn. The racial and cultural diversity among Caribbean immigrants is ultimately reflected in New York City schools. Coming from countries with smaller education systems and limited options in terms of the type of school children can attend, Caribbean immigrants with young children must consider many factors when choosing schools at the elementary level.

This study investigates how Caribbean parents navigate New York City’s school choice systems: What do they care about when choosing elementary schools? What factors influence their choices? I conducted a qualitative study by using semi-structured interviews with nine Caribbean immigrant parents living in East Flatbush Brooklyn to better understand how Caribbean parents make their school choices. I found that cultural background as it relates to schooling and parents’ school experiences had a significant influence on what parents want in a school for their children and ultimately the type of school they choose. The study draws on an analysis of interviews using a cultural-ecological typology and socioeconomic theories of school choice.

This study provides critical information on how the education system can be more culturally responsive to immigrants of color, acknowledging that the expectations of Caribbean immigrant parents or caregivers may be different from other immigrant parents.