Federal complaint challenges charter schools on civil rights ground | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Federal complaint challenges charter schools on civil rights ground

Posted By on Thu, Apr 7, 2016 at 2:43 PM

A complaint to the federal Office of Civil Rights filed by the ACLU in Delaware alleges that publicly funded and privately managed charter schools in that state are resegregating the education system in violation of civil rights law.

Sound familiar? It's not specifically what John Walker has argued in his federal lawsuit over the state takeover of the Little Rock School District, but there are parallels.

Most of the charter schools are racially identifiable in Delaware, the complaint said. The high-performing ones are identifiably white and the low-performing ones identifiably black. Writes ibtimes:
The complaint lands amid mounting data tying charter schools to segregation.

In 2010, for example, a University of Colorado report analyzing charter schools from across the country found that "as compared with the public school district in which the charter school resided, the charter schools were substantially more segregated by race, wealth, disabling condition and language." Similarly, in reviewing a decade worth of research about charter schools, George Washington University education researcher Iris Rotberg earlier this year concluded that "charter schools often lead to increased school segregation ... and lead to the stratification of students who were previously in integrated environments."

Meanwhile, a General Accountability Office study in 2012 showed that "charter schools enrolled a lower percentage of students with disabilities than traditional public schools."

The potential causes of segregation aren't entirely clear. In the Delaware case, the groups blame charter schools' admissions requirements for effectively promoting discrimination. 
Arkansas charters are open enrollment when privately operated and nominally use lotteries to choose students when oversubscribed. But it hasn't stopped, for example, whiter, more prosperous oases in the majority black, majority impoverished Little Rock School District.

I wouldn't be surprised if Delaware found some Walton-subsidized academics in Arkansas to rise to their defense on this complaint.

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