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Charter schools, racial segregation, and student achievement: Implications for the reauthorization of NCLB’s choice provisions and other school choice expansion. Dr. Janelle Scott New York University November 28-29, 2007
Charter schools, racial segregation, and student achievement: Implications for the reauthorization of NCLB’s choice provisions and other school choice expansion
Dr. Janelle Scott
New York University
November 28-29, 2007
Paper prepared for the “Public school choice in a post-desegregation world: What have we learned and where are we going?” meeting. Storrs, CT
“Charter schools are innovative public schools providing choices for families and greater accountability for results.”
1) Compare aggregate charter school students’ performance to traditional public school students on a given standardized assessment
2) Compare the growth of charter school students to traditional public school students
3) Compare the performance of poor students and students of color in charter schools to similar public school students in terms of achievement growth
Charter schools serve larger shares of African American and Latino students than their respective proportions found in regular public schools. But ethnic segregation is comparatively greater charter schools. Three-fourths of all black charter school students are enrolled in 273 schools. The share of students who are African American in these schools averages 80%, compared to 54% black representation among the comparable set of regular public schools (Fuller et al., 2003, p. 3).
Observers take as a given that charter schools serving poor children of color will lag behind traditional public schools and more elite charter schools because their students are believed to be more difficult to educate, yet also argue that choice alone will somehow close the achievement gap.
Certainly some of Ohio’s charter schools are not performing as well as had been hoped for when they were founded. But in many of these cases it’s because the schools have taken on the challenge of educating the difficult-to-reach children who were given up on by traditional public schools — the children who, every year, fell further and further behind and received no help; the children who, were it not for their charter school, would have dropped out or landed in jail or worse.For them, charter schools are their last best hope for receiving an education and ultimately succeeding in life.Will these students be better off if their charter schools go out of business? The answer must be a resounding no.
--November 15, 2007: Letter to the Editor, New York Times
The racial achievement gap within the charter school sector, can be partially understood by intra-sector stratification and resource inequalities that mirror those in the traditional public school arena.