Choice changes everything
Close on two years after Gary Orfield’s Civil Rights Project released its influential—and controversial—Choice Without Equality report, another of the Orfield clan is chastising charters for their level of racial segregation. According to Brother Myron, charter schools in his home state of Minnesota resemble “the Deep South in the days of Jim Crow segregation,” as these schools cater to niche student markets—often of the same race. At Dugsi Academy, for example, the school’s all-black student population studies Arabic and Somali: The school has a mission of educating East African children in the Twin Cities. A few miles down the road, students at the Twin Cities German Immersion School, who are 90 percent white, are immersed in German language and cultural studies. Myron is right that these “boutique” charters are racially homogeneous. But Orfield is missing a few structural beams in his tower of rhetoric. The most crucial: This type of “segregation” is both self-selected and voluntary. “Some people call it segregation. This is the parent’s choice. They can go anywhere they want. We are offering families something unique,” explains Dugsi’s director. Instead of lamenting the lack of diversity in these unique school models, Orfield should respond the all-American way: via competition. Open up some racially diverse charter schools, Myron, and let parents vote with their feet.
Segregated Charter Schools Evoke Separate But Equal Era in the U.S.,” by John Hechinger, Bloomberg News, December 27, 2011.
Category: Charters & Choice
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