Report: In racially-diverse suburbs, charter schools getting whiter

9:24 PM, Oct 13, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - A growing number of charter schools with mostly white students are opening in racially diverse Twin Cities suburbs, according to a new University of Minnesota report.

"In many of the first and second ring suburbs where the schools have become more diverse you have a disproportionate number of very white charter schools," said the report's author Myron Orfield.

The report says that since 2008 there's been a 40 percent increase in charters that serve mostly white students in first and second ring suburbs. It also shows charters overall continue to under-perform other public schools and are becoming increasingly segregated by race. Similar results were found in the U's 2008 and 2012 research on charters.

Charter school advocates say families choose charters for their academic programs and small class sizes, not to pull students out of racially diverse schools. And they say broad comparisons between the performance of charter schools and district schools aren't relevant for many parents who are looking for the best educational option for their children.

"Most parents choose charter schools for academic programs that may not be available in their district schools," said Brian Sweeney of Charter School Partners, a nonprofit charter startup group. He characterizes the U's report as "anti-charter."

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