White students will be minority this year

Non-Hispanic white enrollment will fall below 50 percent in  U.S. public schools this fall, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Parents back teachers, reforms

Parents believe teachers are doing a good job, but they also strongly support teacher-quality reforms, according to a new Joyce Foundation survey on parents’ attitudes on the quality of education.

While those surveyed said teachers  should be supported and paid more, they also wanted to use multiple measures, including student achievement growth, in teacher evaluation, compensation, and lay-off decisions. Parents also want “to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom and provide financial rewards to help teachers succeed.”

While only half of the parents say they’re familiar with Common Core standards, they overwhelmingly believe the new standards will improve education, the survey found.

Minority and low-income parents are more likely to see serious problems in their schools—from low expectations to bullying to out-of-date technology and textbooks—than those who are affluent or white,”  Ed Week notes.

A turnover gap for minority teachers

Black and Latino teachers are leaving the profession “in droves,” says Betty Achinstein, a researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the co-author of Change(d) Agents: New Teachers of Color in Urban Schools.

“Teachers of color” make up only 17 percent of the teaching force, despite the rising percentage of minority students, reports Miller-McCune.  Schools are hiring more minority teachers, but also losing more, says Richard Ingersoll, a Penn professor of education.

According to the Penn study, more than half of all public school minority teachers are working in high-poverty, high-minority urban schools, compared to only one-fifth of white teachers, though white teachers still make up the majority of teachers in those schools.

The turnover rate for minority teachers was 24 percent higher than for whites in 2008-09, the Penn study found.  Difficult working conditions drive teachers out. “The reality is, the minority teachers are not more likely than white teachers to stay in those tough places,” Ingersoll said.

Charter schools and segregation

Charter schools aren’t much more segregated than nearby schools students otherwise would attend, concludes an analysis by a team lead by Gary Ritter, a University of Arkansas education policy professor, in Education Next.

That contradicts the UCLA-based Civil Rights Project’s Choice without Equity: Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards. That’s because the Civil Rights Project compared charter schools, often located in high-minority urban neighborhoods, with all traditional public schools, which are located in much more diverse areas. In inner cities, students in both charters and traditional public schools “attend school in intensely segregated settings,” write the Arkansas team.

Their findings jibe with a 2009 report by RAND, which followed students in five cities who moved from traditional public schools into charter schools: RAND found transfers have “surprisingly little effect on racial distributions across the sites.”

The Civil Rights Project’s report also complained of nearly all-white charter schools.

In some cases, like Idaho, charter school students across all races attend schools of white isolation: majorities of students of all races are in 90–100% white charter schools.

“No kidding!” responds the Arkansas team. “The state of Idaho is nearly 95 percent white.”

Public schools are segregation academies because students are forced to go to school where they live, writes Greg Forster (with Whitney Tilson quotes), looking at New York City.

Oakland charters succeed

Oakland charter schools are outperforming similar district-run schools at all grade levels, with high-poverty students and with all minority students, concludes a report by the California Charter Schools Association.  Gains are increasing over time.

Seventeen percent of Oakland students attend charter schools. Sixty-nine percent of charters outperformed the neighboring district schools with similar demographics on the 2008 Academic Performance Index (API) growth index.

. . .  charter schools significantly outperformed district public schools in middle (836 to 624) and high schools (688 to 528) and slightly outperformed district schools at the elementary school level (725 to 705). Of the top ten highest-performing public schools in Oakland, all secondary schools were charter schools.

Charters were most effective with low-income and black students.

Oakland’s charter schools serve a significantly higher percentage of Latino students, a higher percentage of high-poverty students, roughly an equal percentage of African-American students and a lower percentage of Asian-American and white students.