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ERIC Number: ED509773
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jan
Pages: 130
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Choice without Equity: Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards
Frankenberg, Erica; Siegel-Hawley, Genevieve; Wang, Jia
Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles
Seven years after the Civil Rights Project first documented extensive patterns of charter school segregation, the charter sector continues to stratify students by race, class and possibly language. This study is released at a time of mounting federal pressure to expand charter schools, despite on-going and accumulating evidence of charter school segregation. The authors' analysis of the 40 states, the District of Columbia, and several dozen metropolitan areas with large enrollments of charter school students reveals that charter schools are more racially isolated than traditional public schools in virtually every state and large metropolitan area in the nation. While examples of truly diverse charter schools exist, their data show that these schools are not reflective of broader charter trends. Four major themes emerge from this analysis of federal data. First, while charter schools are increasing in number and size, charter school enrollment presently accounts for only 2.5% of all public school students. Despite federal pressure to increase charter schools--based on the notion that charter schools are superior to traditional public schools, in spite of no conclusive evidence in support of that claim--charter school enrollment remains concentrated in just five states. Second, they show that charter schools, in many ways, have more extensive segregation than other public schools. Charter schools attract a higher percentage of black students than traditional public schools, in part because they tend to be located in urban areas. As a result, charter school enrollment patterns display high levels of minority segregation, trends that are particularly severe for black students. Third, charter school trends vary substantially across different regions of the country. Latinos are under-enrolled in charter schools in some Western states where they comprise the largest share of students. At the same time, a dozen states (including those with high concentrations of Latino students like Arizona and Texas) report that a majority of Latino charter students attend intensely segregated minority schools. Patterns in the West and in a few areas in the South, the two most racially diverse regions of the country, also suggest that charters serve as havens for white flight from public schools. Finally, in the industrial Midwest, more students enroll in charter schools compared to other regions, and midwestern charter programs display high concentrations of black students. Fourth, major gaps in multiple federal data sources make it difficult to answer basic, fundamental questions about the extent to which charter schools enroll and concentrate low-income students and English Language Learners (ELLs). Charter schools receive public funding and therefore should be equally available to all students regardless of background. Three appendices are included: (1) Supplemental Tables; (2) State Charter School Legislation Regarding Transportation; and (3) State Charter School Legislation Regarding ELL Students. A bibliography is also included. (Contains 58 tables, 9 figures, and 95 footnotes.) [Foreword by Gary Orfield.]
Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles. 8370 Math Sciences, P.O. Box 951521, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1521. Tel: 310-267-5562; Fax: 310-206-6293; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Ford Foundation; Open Society Institute
Authoring Institution: University of California, Los Angeles, Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles
Identifiers - Location: Arizona; District of Columbia; Texas