Private charter schools contribute to segregation, researchers find

An American Enterprise Institute report advancing privately run charter schools is flawed and actually demonstrates that private charter schools may be destructive of the common good by contributing to segregation, a new report shows.

The National Education Policy Center reviewed the American Enterprise Institute report, Differences by Design? Student Composition in Charter Schools with Different Academic Models, which compared differences in approaches and demographics between charter school models and public schools. The academic review of the report finds that it fails to consider: (1) a large body of research on parent-decision-making; (2) research suggesting that charter schools are not as innovative as they claim; and (3) the purpose and aims of an equitable public education system.

“While the authors and AEI may have conceived this report as a rationale for advancing charter schools, their data demonstrates that charter schools may be destructive of the common good,” the report states.

The report used enrollment demographics at different charter school models (e.g., art focused, no-excuses, single-sex, etc.), to demonstrate that different demographic groups attend different types of charter schools. With regard to different categories of race and ethnicity, family income, and special education status, the report documents demographic sorting as an outcome of school choice.

The reviewers find that the report presents charter school de facto segregation as a benign byproduct of parental choice. In fact, the review finds that the original report actually acknowledged that this type of stratification was part and parcel of a “properly” functioning charter sector – one in which parents get to choose the type of school their children attend.

The review finds that the American Enterprise Institute report relies heavily on its own reports and other pro-charter advocacy groups. Only two sources from the report were from peer-reviewed journals.

Read the Review

WEAC partners with the Great Lakes Center to share and provide academically sound reviews of education-related studies. WEAC President Ron Martin sits on the Great Lakes Board of Directors and exposes a flawed report advancing privately run charter schools.

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