Charter Schools Do Little To Combat Racial Segregation, Says National Study
Charter schools have been around for 25 years, following a 1991 Minnesota law that paved the way for eight such schools there.
Today, charter schools enroll a small percentage of public school students across the country, but they continue to inspire heated debate about equity and education reform.
Now, a new national study of enrollment, poverty, and testing data concludes that charter schools have little impact on the widespread racial segregation found in traditional public schools.
“Regardless of charter status, white, black, and Hispanic children on average attend schools in which their group is the majority, and Asian and Native American children attend schools where their group is disproportionately represented,” write John Logan of Brown University and Julia Burdick-Will of Johns Hopkins University in the August issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs.
“Charter enrollment has expanded greatly in the last decade, and it is becoming possible now to gain a better sense of their profile – where they are, who enrolls in them, and how they compare to non-charter schools,” according to the study.
The findings rely on nationwide data from the 2010-2011 school year for fourth and tenth graders in districts with at least one charter school. The study comes at a time of heated debate about the role of charter schools. A 2010 report from the Civil Rights Project out of the University of California, Los Angeles, concluded that “the charter school movement has been a major political success, but it has been a civil rights failure.” The report continues, saying, “though there are some remarkable and diverse charter schools, most are neither.”
Indeed, the study from Logan and Burdick-Will found that charter schools do little to disrupt segregation in public schools and, in some cases, make it worse. “(There) is greater racial isolation in charter schools than in non-charter schools in the same district,” according to the report.
“This effect is found for white children…but even more for elementary black and Native American students.” Racial isolation was also compounded by the relative socioeconomic isolation found in charters as well. “(Poverty) is significantly lower in the charter schools attended by white children, especially in comparison with the charter schools attended by elementary black children and Hispanic high school students.”
Though the study was not an attempt to address the effectiveness of teaching in charter schools, the authors do note that charter school students generally fare no better, if not worse, than traditional public school students on standardized test scores. “Only for Asians is Charter Schools Do Little To Combat Racial Segregation, Says National StudyRivard Report: