Walton U. strikes again UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Walton U. strikes again UPDATE

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 9:47 AM

Just in time for a federal court hearing this week, the Walton U. School of Union Busting, Charter Schools and Lower School Taxes hit the front page of today's D-G with a "study" purporting to show charter schools actually promote desegregation in LR. It was outcome-based faux research to support an ideological point of view. Chris Heller, the LR School District lawyer, said the UA, where the Walton think tank resides, should be ashamed. I'm with Heller.

INTERESTING FACT: The Arkansas Department of Education supplied data to the pro-charter-school group at Fayetteville on which this "study" is based, but denied a request for the identical data from the Little Rock School District, Heller said. LR was denied in the name of confidentiality of student records, but apparently "researchers" are good to go with student data.

The "study" was lacking because it didn't cover a majority of the students. It ascribed no segregative or desegregative effect to those students, but studied only the minority who they could identify as transferrs from public schools. The silent majority also comprises students who might be in public schools had not free charter schools been created, of course. Their number will only grow over time and contribute to further public school segregation of racial patterns of charter enrollment continue.

If you create numerous new independent school districts (charter schools) in Pulaski County, you are naturally not only taking students away from conventional public schools in transfers but you are also catching them before they ever get to those public schools.

As meaningless as the Walton U. numbers are, they do illustrate again (as our reporting had previously) that charter schools are skimming disproportionate numbers of kids from better economic backgrounds, thus creating more socio-economic segregation. But the larger fact is simple: If you create new segregated charter schools, you have more students in segregated settings in the county.

How about this nugget: Walton U notes that 22 percent of LRSD students are white and that 36 percent of those transferring to charters are white, but this is actually GOOD for desegregation. Huh?  In their view, taking a disproportionate number of white students is GOOD for desegregation of the district they leave. New math at Walton U.

The ideologues also hold magnet schools in a weird category. A transfer from an ingtegrated magnet school (generally about 55 percent black) to a segregated charter school is deemed good for integration by the ideologue/researchers. Go figure.

Want some real research?

Take a 20-year look at the charter experience in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

After two decades of experience, most charter schools in the Twin Cities still underperform comparable traditional public schools and intensify racial and economic segregation in the Twin Cities schools. This is the conclusion of a new report issued today by the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota Law School.

Entitled “Failed Promises: Assessing Charter Schools in the Twin Cities,” the new study evaluates the record of charter schools in terms of academic achievement, racial and economic segregation, and their competitive impact on traditional public schools. The study finds that rather than encouraging a race to the top, charter school competition in fact promotes a race to the bottom in the traditional public school system.

“The Twin Cities is the birthplace of charter schools. Education reformers look up to Minnesota as the state with the longest track record with charter schools. But before they rush into expanding the charter sector in their states, they should take a closer look at the Twin Cities experience,” said Myron Orfield, Director of the Institute on Race and Poverty. “Rather than being a solution to the educational problems faced by low-income students and students of color, charter schools are deepening these problems.”

Or California. Or a national review from a self-described school reformer and employee of a charter school management organization who acknowledges the segregative effects of charter schools.

Desegregation isn't much in fashion any more, legally or otherwise. I doubt the UA reformers care much about creating segregated schools except to the extent that the fact might stand in the way of ending the Pulaski desegregation lawsuit and its attendant state expense as recompense for promoting segregation  all those years. Thus the hurryup "research."

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