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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

All-minority charters: Is it segregation?

At 25 percent of urban charter schools, 99 percent of students are non-white, reports AP. That compares to 10 percent of traditional public schools.

Does it matter?

Kindergartners at a New Orleans charter school. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Some inner-city families prefer “cultural homogeneity,” AP concedes.

Others simply want a safe, effective school.

Test scores tend to be higher at integrated schools, reports AP.  Only 20 percent of students reach proficiency at traditional public schools that are racially isolated, according to the AP analysis. By contrast, 30 percent reach proficiency at all-minority charters.

That’s not great. But it’s better.

Some low-income black students in Milwaukee reach high school unable to read, Howard Fuller, the former superintendent told AP.  Talking about integration is a “waste of time,” he said. “How do these kids get the best education possible?”

Parents choose charters because they work, responds the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools.

According to a 2015 Stanford CREDO study, students enrolled in urban charter schools gained 40 additional days of learning in math per year and 28 additional days in reading compared to their district-run school peers. English Language Learners at charter schools gained 72 additional days of learning in math per year and 79 in reading.

Urban charter schools are particularly effective for low-income black students, writes Charles Barone on Education Reform Now.

CREDO has found that across public charter schools in all urban regions, Black students in poverty receive the equivalent of 59 days of additional learning in math and 44 days of additional learning in reading compared to their peers with similar demographics in traditional public schools .

Charter schools are concentrated in low-income, minority communities to provide an alternative to the low-performing district-run schools those children otherwise would attend, Barone writes.

A charter school’s demographics should be compared to the district school students otherwise would attend, he writes. “On that basis, there are some instances where charters may lead to more segregated schools, an outcome that deserves serious attention. But those cases are – by far – the exception.”

Charters are “serving the “at-risk kids” they promised to serve, writes Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Education at the University of Washington-Bothell, on The 74.

The (AP) article includes some titillating stats: Charters are more “racially isolated” than district-run schools, and racially isolated schools are more likely to have low test scores. I hope it comes as no surprise to the AP education reporters that poverty is well known to be highly correlated with low proficiency rates. But they do seem ignorant of the important fact that charter schools have a strong track record in overcoming the odds of high poverty. They also fail to consider that parents choose charters, rather than being forced to send their children there.

Citizen Stewart wonders if black colleges such as Morehouse and Howard should be closed and their students sent “to predominantly white institutions so they can be saved by integration?”

You can read more reaction to the AP story by Shavar Jeffries of Democrats for Education Reform, Erika Sanzi of Good School Hunting, Vesia Wilkins-Hawkins of Volume & Light and many more.

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