Sunday, February 07, 2010

New study finds that charter schools are segregation redux

Mayor Karl Dean's best answer to fixing Metro schools has been to promote the charter school fad, the hot latest big distraction in public education. Well, a new report on charter schools in 40 states and the District of Columbia reveals information about them more ominous than the probability that they cause governments to take their eye off the ball:

The report found that charter schools continue to stratify students by race, class, and possibly language, and are more racially isolated than traditional public schools in virtually every state and large metropolitan area in the country ....

The study's key findings suggest that charter schools, particularly those in the western United States are havens for white re-segregation from public schools; requirements for providing essential equity data to the federal government go unmet across the nation; and magnet schools are overlooked, in spite of showing greater levels of integration and academic achievement than charters.

"The charter movement has flourished in a period of retreat on civil rights," stated UCLA Professor Gary Orfield, co-director of the Civil Rights Project. "The vision of a successfully integrated society - one that carries real opportunities for historically excluded groups of students to enter the mainstream - ought to be a defining characteristic of charter schools. Federal policy should make this a condition for charter school support and should support other choice programs which pursue this goal."

The study offers several recommendations for restoring equity provisions and integration in charter schools, including establishing new guidance and reporting requirements by the Federal government; federal funding opportunities for magnet schools, which have a documented legacy of reducing racial isolation and improving student outcomes; and incorporating some features of magnet schools into charter schools.

1 comment:

  1. At least in Tennessee and specifically in Nashville, this is at least in part attributable to choice being limited to those in failing schools (often in socioeconomically depressed zones, which are often majority minority) or in socioeconomically disadvantaged circumstances (i.e., qualifying for free and reduced lunch).