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

Monday, May 02, 2011

Corporate Charter Schools: The New Model for School Segregation

Two important studies, here and here, from 2010 provide incontrovertible evidence that charter schools have strong segregative effects on the education of minorities, the poor, ELLs, and special education students.  In other cases, especially in the South and Southwest, charters harken back to the private Protestant academies of the 1970s, when the preservation of white-only schools required white flight.  Today that flight often ends behind iron gates in leafy suburbs with names like Plantation Estates.  The added benefit today is, of course, that public dollars pay for these private academies of white privilege.

And yet Team Oligarch Obama continues to support the unregulated and racist expansion of charter schools that routinely violate federal Civil Rights laws.  Civil rights laws, in fact, are viewed as a violation of the autonomy of corporate welfare charter school operators.

An extensive examination of Florida charter schools by the Orlando Sentinel shows more of the same.  When will the revolt begin?

First of two parts
Segregation is making a comeback in Florida's public schools with the new wave of charter schools springing up across the state.
One out of eight charter schools has a student body with 90 percent or more of a single race or ethnicity, an Orlando Sentinel analysis of the state's 456 taxpayer-financed charters shows. That compares with one out of 12 traditional public schools.
Those top heavy charters are adding to the list of out-of-balance public schools that have perplexed educators since integration 40 years ago. Educators have worked for decades to reduce the imbalance through rezoning, school-transfer options, magnet schools and other devices to shift students and make schools more diverse.
But the charter trend is toward segregation, and more of the charters with skewed enrollments may be on the way.
Charter supporters say they have the best intentions and are following state law. Besides, they argue, students are not being forced to attend schools favoring one race or ethnicity. Parents make that choice, they say.

But critics say segregation is not a model Florida should follow in creating new public schools.
Today, many of the new Florida charters are targeting black or Hispanic students. There are charters for Jewish, Greek, Puerto Rican and Native American students, too.
Enrollment at some can run to 99 percent black or Hispanic, with not a single white student at 19 charters and more than a quarter of all Florida charters with 10 percent or fewer white students, according to the state's official count in October.
Equally troubling, civil-rights advocates say, is the rise in charters with largely white student populations, evoking memories of "white flight" from public to private schools across the South during integration.
Such schools appear in communities, including some in Orange County, where parents say they are dissatisfied with the size, academics and discipline at traditional schools their children are zoned to attend. Typically the public schools they are avoiding have a broad racial, ethnic and socioeconomic mix.
State lawmakers and the Florida Department of Education are not concerned with the demographic trends in the charter-school system they created. But some local school-district officials are beginning to question the shift toward segregation in charters. . . .

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