Corruption is increasing in Vietnam, especially within the education system (Transparency International 2018). Briberies, score fixing, and cheating on exams are some examples of the corrupt practices that are regularly reported in the news. In the context of development, there is increased competition for seats in the best schools, access to higher education, and competition for teacher attention in overcrowded classrooms. As a result, bribery has become rampant and serves to mediate lack of transparency and increases inequality for many families unsure of how to support their children’s education. Drawing on interviews with parents, students, teachers, and education leaders from across the county, this paper considers how perceptions of corruption are shaping educational choices and opportunities for different segments of society. For urban families with means, negotiating corruption in education has become an everyday practice, and is leading many to seek secondary and tertiary opportunities outside the country. For those left behind, the pressure to invest in “shadow education” - or the hiring of private tutors and study coaches, attending extra classes, and completing multiple degrees - is leading to increasingly stratified educational outcomes. Findings suggest that gender, age, geographic location, and ethnicity mediate and shape class differences in the ways parents, teachers and students define and experience corruption, and in the anti-corruption strategies they develop as they negotiate access to and control over schooling. Their experiences suggest opportunities to rethink the role of civic engagement in making Vietnam’s education system more transparent and equitable.