Segregation in Charter Schools

The Associated Press recently reported on the issue of segregation in American charter schools, where racial segregation is severely prominent. Charter schools are publicly funded but privately run schools, enrolling more than 2.7 million children nationwide, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Over the last decade, more charter schools have opened, with students enrolled in charter schools tripling in number. But upon extensive investigation into charter schools’ demographics, 17% of all American charter schools (about 1,000 schools) have a 99% minority enrollment.

The research by the Associated Press concluded that these high minority levels corresponded with relatively fewer students reaching state standards for proficiency in reading and math. Though providing an alternative environment to those in poor, segregated neighborhoods, there are drawbacks to this type of separation via charter schools.

In the US, about half of students reach state proficiency levels in regular public schools; charter schools, on average, are only a few percentage points of proficiency behind. Yet, among those charter schools with 99% minority demographics, only about 20% reach proficiency levels of those at traditional public schools.

Therefore, the debate about the educational effectiveness and impact of charter schools continue. Click here to view annual reports of public, charter, and magnet schools by the National Center for Education Statistics.


Sophia Kim