Success without whites: Is this a problem?

Albany’s charter students (85 percent poor, 96 percent black or Latino) are outperforming students in district-run schools (68 percent poor, 80 percent black or Latino), reports the Albany Times Union. But those poor, little, high-performing charter kids are racially isolated, the Times Union charges in a front-page story. There aren’t enough white students in their classes.

That’s because the Brighter Choice Foundation, which runs all of Albany’s charters, opened schools in the neediest neighborhoods, writes Jason Brooks of Foundation for Education Reform and Accountability.

After nearly a decade accusing Brighter Choice schools of “creaming” the best students, it takes chutzpah to accuse the schools of segregation, writes Peter Meyer, who wrote an Ed Next story on Brighter Choice’s success.

Now that nearly a quarter of Albany’s public school kids, the ones local teacher unions and Albany Public School administrators said were uneducable (because they were poor and black) – now that the creaming issue is off the table and those same kids are beating the socks off even their white counterparts on academic achievement tests, we get S-E-G-R-E-G-A-T-I-O-N.

Can’t poor black kids catch a break here?

Albany’s public schools aren’t models of integration, the Times Union concedes.

An independent auditor recently found that advanced classes at Albany High School were highly segregated with few minority students. Superintendent Raymond Colucciello said the district is now working to reduce that racial isolation at the high school as well as at magnet schools, but that charter schools lack the same sort of oversight. He said that flies in the face of the Brown decision.

Advanced classes at the charter schools have nearly all minority students. Would oversight fix that?

Charters receive 13 percent of district funding, the newspaper complains. But charter students make up 23 percent of public school enrollment.

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  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    One of the reasons behind NCLB is to get the poorer prospects educated instead of hiding their stats among the better performers.
    There was some resistance, I believe.
    Many excuses.
    This makes it clear.

  2. Isn’t the root issue here the integrity of students, and their decisions?

    It seems to me that when we talk about ‘segregation’ we’re conflating two kinds … the first kind may come by way of housing or schooling policy, where students are funneled into segregated settings. That’s what used to be done.

    Then there is the phenomenon of non-white families, through their own choice amongst multiple options for schools, sending students to schools that happen to have racial concentration.

    Some call this ‘defacto segregation,’ but I wonder if it’s not that at all…instead something more like ‘post segregation.’

  3. My public school is 90% Hispanic, and less than 5% white overall, just like the community it serves. Guess what — our kids do just fine on the state tests (if an exemplary rating qualifies as “just fine”), and while the scores on AP tests are not where we might like them, they are steadily rising even as we increase the number of students enrolled in AP. Not bad for someplace where the poverty rate is excruciatingly high and many students are first generation Americans from non-English speaking homes.

    In other words, don’t give me the crap about segregation — just give my colleagues and I the resources and the support and we will get the kids to learn.

  4. I grew up and have lived just outside Albany… and the district is a mess. The administrators have done an excellent job effectively separating the children of doctors and politicians that live in the district from those that live in the low-income housing.
    A couple of years ago a 60 year old teacher was held down and assaulted by four students.
    There was a bit of a scandal when a high school student was assaulted by another student… and the school suggested that the injured student change schools.
    An audit of the district by the NY State Comptroller’s office a few years ago cited Albany for have 780 UNREPORTED cases of violence that were left off of their reports to State Ed.
    The charter schools do have one advantage over the public schools – the students who move to the charters generally have parents who are more interested in their education as opposed to those left behind in the public schools.

  5. The main advantage, (and IMHO the main purpose) of charter schools is to allow the kids and parents who give a damn to escape the anchor of the kids and parents who don’t.

  6. The Brown (first one) decision was about unequal access, not about avoiding segregation. If access wasn’t equal when the races are separate, then they can’t be separate. But if a good education is accessible to everyone, the segregated aspect of a school’s location isn’t really relevant.

    I’m not advocating intentional segregation here, just advocating an understanding of the first Brown decision. Also, I fail to see why we should accuse a charter school of segregation when it was serving the neediest students regardless of race. Its location determined its enrollment, right? So get over your irritation at being bested, Albany, and learn some lessons to improve the education you provide all your students no matter what the student racial makeup is.

  7. This year at my school 100% of our African American students passed, but our white kids barely squeaked over our AYP goal line. (We have more African American students than white students, and more Korean and Hispanic students than white or African American students).
    It seems to me that race isn’t really an issue anymore. Now we’re in trouble for letting our almost white kids fail, when it seems to me that we closed the achievement gap- shouldn’t we be celebrating? If our African American kids had the scores our white students had nobody would blink an eye- but because it is reversed it makes everyone uncomfortable.

    Why does everyone outside of school walls (the public, central office) have higher expectations for white students than the rest of our students?

    I’m tired of dividing our kids by race when it comes to AYP. In the classrooms they are children- we teach the children in front of us regardless of their race. When will we get to stop grouping them into racial categories outside of the school walls?


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