The U.S. Charter School Movement and Ethnic Segregation.Report as inadecuate

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Among the major concerns surrounding school-choice programs is their potential to stratify students along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic class. The latest among four U.S. Department of Education national evaluations of charter schools reports no evidence that charter schools are predominantly white or that they segregate students. Such statements may serve to misrepresent charter schools and their potential to ethnically and racially stratify students. There is an overreliance on aggregate data to answer the question whether ethnic separation occurs between schools; and in addition, such statements overgeneralize the circumstances of charter schools, which operate under varying conditions often as a result of differing state laws and regulations. This paper presents evidence of ethnic/racial stratification among charter schools in Arizona, California, and Michigan. These three states currently enroll over half of all charter school students in the United States and contain nearly half of the nation's charter schools. The conclusions drawn rest primarily upon findings from three statewide studies. Comparisons among proximal charter and traditional public schools in Arizona, Michigan, and California suggest that a significant number of charter schools are disproportionately more white by about 15 to 20 percent on average. Moreover, certain state charter policies appear to permit such sorting. The evidence presented runs counter to some of the claims intimated by highly regarded national evaluations of charter schools. (Contains 29 references, 3 figures, and 2 tables.) (Author/MLF)

Descriptors: Access to Education, Black Students, Charter Schools, Elementary Secondary Education, Enrollment Trends, Ethnic Bias, Minority Groups, Public Schools, Racial Bias, Research Problems, School Choice, School Demography, Socioeconomic Status, State Standards, White Students

Author: Cobb, Casey D.; Glass, Gene V.; Crockett, Carol


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