Segregating charter schools | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Segregating charter schools

Posted By on Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 12:00 PM

An interesting article in NY Times today about the rising use of charter schools in Minnesota to cater to distinct ethnic and immigrant groups -- Hmong, Latino and Somalian, for example. Some see it as a promising way to speed immigrant students' assimilation to English. Others think resegregation promoted by charters -- and you could add racial and economic resegregation to the types promoted by charters -- runs counter to the idea that public education is a primary component in forging the singular American identity from a melting pot of backgrounds.

Well. This reminds me of an anecdote. Regular readers of the Times know that there's a strong ethnic flavor, Turkish, to the LISA Academy formed in Little Rock several years ago. The school's application was controversial because, among others, it didn't provide advance science and math instruction unavailable in the LRSD and also because it opened in WLR after organizers claimed they intended to set up in a place accessible to low-income students. Its organizers also faltered badly by making offensive remarks about parents, like me, who chose LRSD for their children. They suggested such parents didn't care about their children's education.

Though it's an open enrollment charter, it's been evident from the first that a founding LISA premise was establishing a haven for students of an identifiable group away from the perceived ill influences in regular public schools. Doubt me?

I ran into former City Director Lottie Shackelford over the holidays and she introduced me to some friends, Turkish students in advanced studies at UALR. She told me about the city's growing Turkish population and added, "They even have their own charter school." Yes, I said, I'd heard that.


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