"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Fast Track to Resegregation: Corporate Charter Schools

Twenty years ago educators believed charter schools could be hothouses of pedagogical innovation outside the normal confines of public education. As with many other good ideas aimed at encouraging diversity of thought, corporate America appropriated the charter school movement as their own and even advertised louder about innovation and letting a thousand flowers bloom. By the end of the Bush reign, however, the charter movement had established a major beachhead with over 4000 schools in 40 states, mostly in urban America. And so by the time Duncan had been anointed by Eli Broad as Secretary, it was time to kill most of the thousand flowers and to scale up the penal pedagogy model based on total compliance that uses unlicensed and unqualified teachers to drill math and reading test prep in schools without libraries or real curriculums. Containment schools based on total compliance and psychological neutering that no parent in the leafy suburbs would dare send their children to.

According to Duncan, "This is not let a thousand flowers bloom. We only let the best of the best open schools. It should be a very rigorous, competitive process. The chance to educate our children is really a sacred obligation." Yet according to the only national study of charters, fewer than 2 of 10 of these segregated chain gangs produce higher test scores than the public schools they replace. Of course, they do save 20 cents on every dollar for the cost of teachers. Never mind the huge savings accrued from turning a dog kennel or a shutdown Dodge dealership into a school for impoverished minority children.

And now we have another research study that shows in spades how corporate charters are hastening the resegregation of schools.

New Report - Charter Schools' Political Success is a Civil Rights Failure

CRP's analysis of the 40 states, the District of Columbia, and several dozen metropolitan areas with large enrollments of charter school students reveals that not only are charter schools more racially isolated than traditional public schools in virtually every instance, but troubling data gaps also make it impossible to assess charter schools enrollments of low-income and English Learner students.

Download the report and related documents from the press release page.
And here are some clips from Nick Anderson's story today in WaPo:

Seven out of 10 black charter school students are on campuses with extremely few white students, according to a new study of enrollment trends that shows the independent public schools are less racially diverse than their traditional counterparts.

The findings from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, which are being released Thursday, reflect the proliferation of charter schools in the District of Columbia and other major cities with struggling school systems and high minority populations.

To the authors of the study, the findings point to a civil rights issue: "As the country continues moving steadily toward greater segregation and inequality of education for students of color in schools with lower achievement and graduation rates," the study concludes, "the rapid growth of charter schools has been expanding a sector that is even more segregated than the public schools."

. . . .

n the District, about 28,000 students attend charter schools; the school system has about 46,000 students. Recent data show that 84 percent of the city's charter school students are African American, compared with 78 percent in regular public schools.

Nationally, according to 2007-08 federal data that the study cited, black students account for 32 percent of charter school enrollment. That is roughly twice their share of enrollment in regular public schools.

The study also found that 70 percent of black charter students are in schools in which at least 90 percent of the student population is nonwhite, and 43 percent of black charter students are in schools with virtually all-minority enrollment. For black students in regular public schools, the comparable shares were 36 percent (in the high-minority enrollment schools) and 15 percent (in virtually all-minority schools).. . .

So yes, corporate apartheid schooling is the civil rights issue of this generation. You bet it is. When will the NAACP or the federal government notice?


  1. Sent by "Joe Williams" in his DFER e-newsletter for February 4, 2010 11:55 AM:

    Democrats for Education Reform released the following statement on the newly released Civil Rights Project report on charter schools:

    "The UCLA Civil Rights Project seemingly wants to block minority parents from choosing to enroll their children in better schools simply because it feels those schools aren't white enough. What's up with that?"

  2. Proponents of charter schools like the idea that a charter school can operate in "their community" (in an already self-segregated area (whether defined by ethnicity, race or income). Yet these same people cry 'marginilazation', 'injustice', 'inequity', 'prejudice' at every turn. How does segregating their kids in schools where everyone looks and sounds like them prepare them for the big, bag world outside the 'cocoon'? These underexposed kids will have a rude awakening at colleges, if they get there, and realize that they're really just one of many with whom they'll have to compete in the labor force for jobs.