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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

If minority parents choose a charter, that's not 'resegregation'

Parents should be able to choose a public school that meets their children's academic needs and their family's values, writes Debbie Veney of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. It's not "resegregation" if that school is open to all but primarily attracts minority students. The goal of the civil rights movement was to enable children to attend better schools -- not necessarily white schools -- she argues.

Success Academy students in New York City

Seventy years ago, Brown v. Board of Education declared that “separate but equal” public schools were unconstitutional, she writes. "Many lament that racial segregation in schools is worse today than it was back then," and some blame urban charter schools that primarily educate black and Hispanic students.

Many urban charters are offering a much better education to students in minority neighborhoods, she writes. A recent Stanford study found that “charter schools produce superior student gains despite enrolling a more challenging student population than their adjacent” traditional district schools, and more specifically, “Black and Hispanic students in charter schools advance more than their [traditional district] peers by large margins in both math and reading.” 

"The true goal of desegregation was to improve educational access and outcomes for Black children," writes Veney. "Getting those kids into White schools was the best way to get it done in 1954" because those schools had heat, new textbooks and science labs.

Now, the issue is achievement. Families of color aren't demanding more white students. They want more high-quality schools in their neighborhoods. "Sometimes they want something that is not offered at a White school," such as a focus on their culture and home language, Veney adds.


At Dream Diné, a public charter school in Shiprock, New Mexico, students learn the Navajo language and culture. Whites are welcome, but most students are Navajo.

At Hmong American Peace Academy, a charter school in Milwaukee, nearly all the students are Asian, and 83 percent come from low-income households. The school's 93 percent graduation rate is well above the city's average, writes Veney.

Some parents seek out "diverse by design" charters, but integration is not the priority for all parents.

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Jun 27

If the charter school has a good reputation, then more families will apply than there are available spots. Thus, the parents do not really get to choose the school but at best opt into a lottery that might pay off. The question then becomes what happens to the students who did not luck in and what happens to the students that the charter school dumps back to the neighborhood public school.


Jun 26

"Resegregation!" From the same folks who champion Afro-American dormitories and "affinity group" graduation ceremonies. There's no pleasing some folks, especially the Ones Who Best Know What's Good for You.

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