Charter schools and their segregating effect

Last week, the NY Times ran a very eloquent oped by a Brooklyn parent entitled How Charter Schools Can Hurt, pointing out how the aggressive marketing of a Success Academy charter outside her neighborhood public school could very well lead to her school to suffer even more budget cuts, and become less racially and economically diverse, as white middle class parents choose to enroll their children in the charter school instead. 
In response, a parent and an employee of the Success Academy chain wrote a letter, apparently to the applicants to their new Brooklyn charters, that was subsequently posted on our NYC Education List serv.  His letter claimed, among other things, that the charter school his children attend, Upper West Success Academy, “is among the most socio-economic and racially diverse schools in the entire city.”  His letter evokes several concerns.  First of all, If Upper West Success charter is so diverse, why didn’t he include any data about its racial/ethnic breakdown in his letter?
At the forum last fall called Miseducation Nation, sponsored by FAIR, I noted how in Brooklyn public schools in particular there has been a tremendously valuable trend towards integration, as neighborhoods are slowly being gentrified, and white parents are choosing to send their children to predominantly minority schools.  This growing trend should be encouraged and nurtured by DOE; instead, they continually undermine it by forcibly co-locating new schools in their buildings, many of them charters, causing these public schools to lose their most attractive qualities, including valuable programs and small class sizes, due to loss of space.
Also, the DOE’s expansion of charters and other schools of “choice” too often have led white parents to opt out of their neighborhood school for these new schools that tend to be less diverse.  Cindy Black, a Brooklyn parent, wrote about how a new district school of “choice” led to her child’s public school to become more segregated on our blog here.
In any case, there is little doubt that charter schools have had a segregating impact nationally.  The UCLA civil rights project revealed this trend in a comprehensive report in 2010.  John Hechinger at Bloomberg News, who just won a prize for his education reporting, has written about this cogently as well.   The NAACP has issued a resolution against the expansion of charters, in part because of their segregating effect.
See also the support of the KKK for charter schools, in a response to Hechinger’s article:
Parents have been given a choice as to where to send their children and without government interference, many have selected schools with a student population that reflects the race of those children.  In addition, many of these schools satisfy the children’s longing to identify with their racial history by incorporating cultural studies relating to their ethnicity.  There is nothing wrong with this, yet some think it is terrible. In fact, the majority of people prefer to be around others who are like them.  Even those who enjoy international travel and experiencing other cultures still, for the most part, live the rest of their life among those of similar racial background.  Why does this make some social engineers so angry? It is only natural. Each race should have the right to determine their [sic own affairs without interference.  This is why homogeneous nations are good for world peace. Everyone needs their own space.  And parents who choose charter schools for their children based upon this fact are doing so instinctually [sic] and its [sic] healthy for their families.
Finally, in his letter, the Success Academy parent and employee made the following statement, oft repeated by conservative free marketers:
 “….all parents should have access to and benefit from the resources and facilities that are paid for by our tax dollars.  All of our children should have the same rights to access these resources, facilities, and yes, lunchrooms, regardless of whether they attend charter schools or traditional public schools.
Does that argument also apply to private or parochial schools?  Should the operators of Spence or the Catholic diocese be able to lay claim to public school space because the parents of the students who attend their schools also pay taxes?  This is a very radical and dangerous notion indeed.

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