Education: A Charter-Schools War

Article excerpt

Byline: Pat Wingert

Charter schools--the popular public-school hybrids that promise better academic results in exchange for less bureaucratic red tape--provide black students with a more "intensely segregated school" experience than other public schools, according to a new report from the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. The study's authors charge that 70 percent of black charter-school students attend highly segregated schools, compared with 34 percent of black students who go to other types of public schools. Financed by public money, the nation's 2,300 charter schools are located in 16 states and educate about 1 percent of American schoolchildren. Many of these schools are located in urban areas where racial segregation is most severe, and enrollment is free and strictly voluntary.

Gary Orfield, codirector of the Civil Rights Project, believes school districts that fund charters do not do enough to promote racial integration in these schools. "Creating choice without serious civil-rights policies tends to reflect and even reinforce segregation," he writes in the report's foreword. …