Looks Like School Segregation Is A-OK As Long As The Word ‘Charter’ Is Involved
Charter school proponents are always full of promises about how these schools can save the public education system: they’ll save money, they’ll raise test scores, they’ll reach struggling students in ways mainstream education can’t. Somehow, one promise that never comes up is ‘they’ll separate white students from students of color’, and yet that just might be the charter school result you can most reliably count on.
As Salon reports, the Delaware branch of ACLU has filed a complaint against the state’s charter school system because of its civil-rights-violating student segregation:
The complaint […] cites data showing that more than three-quarters of Delaware’s charter schools are “racially identifiable” — a term that describes schools whose demographics are substantially different from the surrounding community.
Worse yet, the high-performing and low-performing charters are disproportionately broken up along racial lines. The ACLU is seeking the intervention of the federal governmental to end the kinds of charter school policies that contribute to this ‘Civil Rights legislation? What Civil Rights legislation?’ segregation. No more expensive admissions fees, no mandatory parental involvement that blocks the kids of working-class families from enrollment, no subjective admissions policies that enable cherry-picking. And no more segregation, which is a thing it’s ridiculous to have to say in the year 2014.
This complaint isn’t the first time charter schools have been accused of segregation – previous reports and studies have found racially-divided charter schools, as well as identifying far lower-than-average rates of special-needs and English Language Learner students in charters. I’m not sure what’s so special about achieving above-average test scores (which, by the way, still doesn’t always happen even with cherry-picked charter students). Is that something to be proud of, when you only care about educating an above-average student body populated entirely of neurotypical, able-bodied kids from well-to-do households who have never been subjected to an hour, let alone a lifetime, of hunger, poverty, racism, or xenophobia? Congratulations, I guess.
Full disclosure: I’m a former public school teacher, and so, as you might expect, I’m not especially interested in seeing my former colleagues have funding sucked away from them by a new pet project school that nabs high-achieving students from the local public schools and then uses their biased results to slam public school teachers. I’m not happy when these faux public schools are used to inflict someone’s idiotic educational agenda on kids. I’m not thrilled when I see money get flushed down the toilet of for-profit charter operation companies that have no transparency or oversight. I’m not impressed when I see higher test scores from schools that can hand-pick their desired student population and show the door to students who under-perform. And when I see numerical proof that charter schools have re-opened the door to ‘separate and oh so unequal’, I’m stunned that these schools are still allowed to operate. We can do better. We need to do better. Our kids deserve it – all of them, and not just the ones who are already achieving at a high level.