Because public school funding relies, in part, on property taxes, in communities with little property ownership in the way of a tax base, schools and children suffer.
Even more frightening is the fact that our leaders seem to be well aware of these problems … and completely ineffectual at confronting them. The only education reform act passed by congress in the last 40 years, the No Child Left Behind Act, has as one of its stated goals, the narrowing of the Achievement Gap. But according to a recent New York Times article, NCLB is not closing this gap: “Between 2004 and last year, scores for young minority students increased, but so did those of white students.” The article continues,
Although Black and Hispanic elementary, middle and high school students all scored much higher on the federal test than they did three decades ago, most of those gains were not made in recent years, but during the desegregation efforts of the 1970s and 1980s. That was well before the 2001 passage of the No Child law, the official description of which is “An Act to Close the Achievement Gap.
Thirty years after the civil rights era, the United States remains a residentially segregated society in which Blacks and Whites inhabit different neighborhoods of vastly different quality.The percentage of black children who now go to integrated public schools is at its lowest level since 1968. The words of “American apartheid” have been used in reference to the disparity between white and black schools in America.
That minority parents should be embracing charter schools should not be surprising. I believe that our nation’s Achievement Gap speaks to the fact that problems faced by our public education system are compounded for minority communities. As a result, “charter schools in most states enroll disproportionately high percentages of minority students, resulting in students of all races being more likely to attend school that on average, had a higher percentage of minority students.”
These schools serve residential assignment patterns that already mirror segregated housing patterns created to send kids to traditional district schools. These concentrations, particularly of black parents, in charter schools are less about housing and assignment, patterns, which predate charters, as they currently exist (and school segregation that is endemic of that) and more about the ethnicity of the people who feel the most urgent need for an alternative. Harlem is full of black people. The traditional public schools in that area are terrible overall. So this is a natural response from the most put-upon sector of students who attend those schools.
- Seventy percent of all black charter school students attend intensely segregated minority schools compared with 34% of black public school students. In almost every state studied, the average black charter school student attends school with a higher percentage of black students and a lower percentage of white students.
- Becuase of the disproportionately high enrollement of minority students in charter schools, white charter school students go to school, on average, with more nonwhite students than whites in non-charter public schools. However, there are pockets of white segregation where white charter school students are as isolated as black charter school students.
school integration is laudable, but I don’t particularly think it should be considered a goal. Which is to say, if there’s a school where 100% of the kids are black or 100% are Latino, and everyone is testing advanced proficient, I think that should be enough for everyone.