Report: Charter Schools Not the Answer to Segregation

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- An education think tank has taken a closer look at a report on school segregation that came out this fall from the Center for Children and Families at the Brookings Institution. It found that poverty, not race, is the real challenge for segregated schools, and that improving school quality is key to closing racial achievement gaps.

Erica Frankenberg, co-director at the Center for Education and Civil Rights, said the problem with the report is that it ignored a lot of evidence, and it called for more charter schools. She said charter schools tend to be more segregated than public schools, and added that diversity allows children to learn from each other.

"They have reduced racial prejudice. They're more likely to lead integrated lives as adults," Frankenberg said; "a lot of these things that are really important outcomes of public schools that we want to help prepare our citizens for a diverse country and a diverse workforce."

In her review, Frankenberg found that the report presented a false choice between school integration and the creation of high-quality, urban charter schools. Frankenberg did the analysis for Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center.

The Brookings report said individual charter schools are more racially segregated than the traditional public schools that serve the same geographical area.

William J. Mathis, managing director of the National Education Policy Center, said the issue of segregation needs to be addressed.

"People forget that one of the primary reasons that we have public schools is socialization for a democratic society," Mathis said. "We need to learn to get along together and work together for the common good, and that seems to be lost when people are just simply looking at test scores."

According to Mathis, achievement scores at traditional public schools aren't much different than the charter schools. And he said that means kids are losing out socially, without gaining academically.

(Veronica Carter, Missouri News Service)


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