Editor’s Note: Earlier this month, the UCLA Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles released a report describing persistent and severe racial isolation for charter school students across the nation. Beyond racial segregation, our analysis of federal data revealed gaping holes in charter school enrollment information for low income students and English Language Learners. Please find the executive summary of “Choice without Equity: Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards,” below, along with a several responses from civil rights advocates. A copy of the full report, along with a complete collection of quotes, is available at http://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/news/pressreleases/pressrelease20100204-report.html.

Choice without Equity: Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards
Executive Summary

Seven years after the Civil Rights Project first documented extensive patterns of charter school segregation, the charter sector continues to stratify students by race, class and possibly language. This study is released at a time of mounting federal pressure to expand charter schools, despite on-going and accumulating evidence of charter school segregation.

Our analysis of the 40 states, the District of Columbia, and several dozen metropolitan areas with large enrollments of charter school students reveals that charter schools are more racially isolated than traditional public schools in virtually every state and large metropolitan area in the nation. While examples of truly diverse charter schools exist, our data show that these schools are not reflective of broader charter trends.

Four major themes emerge from this analysis of federal data. First, while charter schools are increasing in number and size, charter school enrollment presently accounts for only 2.5% of all public school students. Despite federal pressure to increase charter schools-based on the notion that charter schools are superior to traditional public schools, in spite of no conclusive evidence in support of that claim-charter school enrollment remains concentrated in just five states.

Second, we show that charter schools, in many ways, have more extensive segregation than other public schools. Charter schools attract a higher percentage of black students than traditional public schools, in part because they tend to be located in urban areas. As a result, charter school enrollment patterns display high levels of minority segregation, trends that are particularly severe for black students.

While segregation for blacks among all public schools has been increasing for nearly two decades, black students in charter schools are far more likely than their traditional public school counterparts to be educated in intensely segregated settings. At the national level, seventy percent of black charter school students attend intensely segregated minority charter schools (which enroll 90-100% of students from under-represented minority backgrounds), or twice as many as the share of intensely segregated black students in traditional public schools. Some charter schools enrolled populations where 99% of the students were from under-represented minority backgrounds. Forty-three percent of black charter school students attended these extremely segregated minority schools, a percentage which was, by far, the highest of any other racial group, and nearly three times as high as black students in traditional public schools. Overall, nearly three out of four students in the typical black student’s charter school are also black. This figure indicates extremely high levels of isolation, particularly given the fact that black students comprise less than one-third of charter students.

Black students are not the only racial group experiencing higher segregation in charter schools. Higher percentages of charter school students of every race attend predominantly minority schools (50-100% minority students) or racially isolated minority schools (90-100% minority students) than do their same-race peers in traditional public schools. Half of Latino charter school students, for example, attended racially isolated minority schools.

Third, charter school trends vary substantially across different regions of the country. Latinos are under-enrolled in charter schools in some Western states where they comprise the largest share of students. At the same time, a dozen states (including those with high concentrations of Latino students like Arizona and Texas) report that a majority of Latino charter students attend intensely segregated minority schools. Patterns in the West and in a few areas in the South, the two most racially diverse regions of the country, also suggest that charters serve as havens for white flight from public schools. Finally, in the industrial Midwest, more students enroll in charter schools compared to other regions, and midwestern charter programs display high concentrations of black students.

Fourth, major gaps in multiple federal data sources make it difficult to answer basic, fundamental questions about the extent to which charter schools enroll and concentrate low-income students and English Language Learners (ELLs). Charter schools receive public funding and therefore should be equally available to all students regardless of background. Approximately one in four charter schools does not report data on low-income students. Since eligibility for receiving free lunch is proof that families cannot afford to provide it, the lack of a free lunch program at school would impose a severe economic barrier to attending a charter school. There is a similar lack of information on ELLs. Federal data on charter schools in California, arguably the country’s most significant gateway for immigrants, describe just seven ELL students attending its state charter programs. In general, state charter school legislation is less likely to contain requirements for enrolling ELL students than for racial balance or diversity standards. The glaring lack of data on each of these traditionally underserved groups makes it difficult to assess charter schools as an educational reform, or monitor their compliance with basic civil rights regulations and state charter school legislation.

We concentrate on state and metropolitan charter trends and not district level patterns since many charter schools can-and do-draw students from multiple school districts. In Arizona, for example, students attending charter schools within a single district boundary line were actually drawn from 21 different school districts (Gifford, Ogle, & Solomon, 1998). Thus, a comparison of similarly functioning charter schools to only one nearby district would be misleading. Even so, our findings of higher segregation in charter schools do not substantively differ from other analyses comparing charters to their surrounding district or nearest public school.

Decades of social science studies find important benefits associated with attending diverse schools, and, conversely, related educational harms in schools where poor and minority students are concentrated. In the recent State of the Union address, the President recognized the persistent link between segregated neighborhoods and schools, saying “In this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than their potential.”1 Ironically, charter schools held an early promise of becoming more integrated than regular public schools because they were not constrained by racially isolating school district boundary lines. This report shows instead that charter schools make up a separate, segregated sector of our already deeply stratified public school system.

So, at the same time it continues to promote the growth of charters, the Obama administration should take immediate action to reduce charter school segregation, working instead to achieve the integrative promise of charter schools. The Education Department should update its now archived guidance on civil rights regulations for charter schools, and strengthen it by including provisions known to have been successful in other programs like magnet schools, which combine school choice with high-quality diverse student bodies. New legislation is needed to ensure that we are collecting enough information about charter school students so that we can monitor student access and outcomes by race, class, and language ability. As ESEA is reauthorized, it should be amended to include students’ socio-economic status as part of the annual evaluation of charter school enrollment. At the same time, more should be done-even beyond measures proposed in the 2011 budget-to strengthen and promote magnet schools as another successful type of school choice, and to emphasize the ability of magnet and charter schools to draw students across boundary lines. States should also work to ensure that diversity considerations are part of the charter approval process, and exercise stronger oversight of existing charter schools.

Indeed, we all must work to build a more inclusive sector of schools, one that magnifies and strengthens the role of choice in fostering integration and equality in American education.

Civil Rights Leaders Response to “Choice without Equity”:

Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ)
“A hasty drive to increase the charter school presence across the country is premature. Based on the limited data we currently have on the effectiveness of these schools, such a move may result in unintended negative consequences. The report from the Civil Rights Project highlights the peril in jumping too quickly to expand charter schools.”

Benjamin Jealous, president, NAACP
“Charter schools use public money and should therefore be run with the same moral commitment as public schools to serve all of America’s children. That means they can’t contribute to segregation, choose which students to serve, or deny kids the quality teaching and opportunity to learn all students deserve. The Civil Rights Project’s outstanding work shows that charters are definitely concentrating children of color in segregated schools, far too often denying English Language Learners equal opportunity and failing to even keep records about serving poor students. That is unacceptable. We exempted charters from some of the rules governing other public schools so they could do extraordinary things to help children, not abuse their privileges by isolating kids and lessening their opportunities to learn with a diverse group of peers.”

Pedro Noguera, executive director, Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, NYU
“Once again, the Civil Rights Project has called our attention to the growing segregation of schools in the United States. The fact the charter schools are implicated in this trend, and are even more segregated than public schools, should prompt all of us who support charters (and I consider myself a supporter) to reflect on what this means for how we are preparing our children to live in an increasingly diverse society. Those who laud the successes of some charter schools must keep in mind that separate but equal didn’t work before and it won’t work now. If charters are to serve as genuine models of innovation and change in education they must also demonstrate that it is possible to educate children from diverse backgrounds together.”
Noguera is also Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Development

Reactions to “Choice without Equity,” particularly in the blogosphere, have been varied, with a number of charter school advocates weighing in. We feel that many of the responses overlook key findings embedded in our study and mischaracterize some of the central issues and questions about charter schools that the study sought to examine. We are eager to move forward to engage in a constructive conversation about charter schools and equity for all students, and to help states and the federal government think about guidelines for protecting students’ civil rights as charter schools continue to grow.

A second report, from researchers at EPIC/EPRU using methods of analysis, reveals very similar findings regarding segregation in charter schools. The two studies corroborate one another and each adds important elements of understanding to the overwhelming trend of charter segregation. Together the analyses show that segregation (by race, SES and language) exists across the charter sector, in both regular charter schools and within networks and organizations of charter schools. The EPIC/EPRU study also looked at the enrollment of students in Special Education and found that charters were seriously under-enrolling those students. The EPIC/EPRU study, “Schools without Diversity: Education Management Organizations, Charter Schools, and the Demographic Stratification of the American School System” is available at http://epicpolicy.org/files/EMO-Seg.pdf.

For next time…
The next issue of TIR will highlight pertinent issues surrounding teaching in racially diverse classrooms.

Genevieve Siegel-Hawley
The Integration Report

1 Remarks by the President in the State of the Union Address, January 27, 2010. Retrieved on January 28, 2010 from http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-state-union-address.


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News Summary

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Please send reports, documents, court decisions, comments or suggestions for topics to: The Integration Report, Editor Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, at integrationrept@ucla.edu.
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Editor’s Note: A number of articles continue to focus on developments in Wake County, North Carolina’s. They appear first, in chronological order. Several other groups of articles were placed together for the sake of general cohesion; otherwise articles appear in the order published.

Charter schools’ growth promoting segregation, studies say
The growth of charter schools has promoted segregation both in California and nationwide, increasing the odds that black, Latino and white students will attend class with fewer children who look different from themselves, according to two new studies. The trend toward segregation was especially notable for African American students. Nationally, 70% of black charter students attend schools where at least 90% of students are minorities. That’s double the figure for traditional public schools. The typical black charter-school student attends a campus where nearly three in four students also are black, researchers with the Civil Rights Project at UCLA said Thursday.

Study: Segregation rife at charter schools
De facto segregation is alive and well in public schools in virtually every state, but is more common in charter schools – an educational option increasingly endorsed in state and national reform efforts, according to a national study released Thursday. The Civil Rights Project report called on federal and state officials to address segregation in charter schools by enforcing civil rights standards of equity, and creating policies that encourage and monitor enrollment. One suggestion was to tie federal funds to charter schools that offer transportation and achieve diversity.

2 more Georgia systems sue over charter schools
Two more Georgia school districts are suing the state over charter schools they don’t want in their counties, but Coweta isn’t among them. Associated Press reports that Henry and Spalding county school systems are joining a growing list of districts with pending lawsuits against the state and the Georgia Charter Schools Commission. The new filing is the third civil case to challenge the constitutionality of the commission, which can approve charter schools and force local districts to fund them.

Learning curve: Race debate still in play
In fighting approval of a regional charter school, southwest Georgia superintendents allege that the Pataula Charter Academy would signal a return to the era in Georgia when blacks and whites attended different schools. One of seven charter schools – public schools that operate with greater autonomy in exchange for greater accountability – approved by a new state commission, Pataula plans to open in the fall as a regional public k-8 school. Some districts now want the state Board of Education to stop Pataula. Along with drawing from the majority black schools in the region, Pataula is attracting students from two private academies, which are virtually all-white. “Initially, you will see more urgency on the side of private-school parents who are tired of paying tuition,” said Ben Dismukes, a Pataula founder and himself the parent of two private-school students. The interest of private-school parents has sparked worries that Pataula is a seg academy posing as a public charter school. To counter the innuendo that it is a “white school,” Pataula has held lotteries for slots, and encouraged all families to apply.

BESE rejects St. Landry charter school application
Proponents of a charter school in Opelousas have lost a final battle in getting it approved this year but say they will try again next year. In a special meeting Thursday, BESE members voted 5-4 in favor of the Acadiana Charter School, but it needed six votes to pass. Primary opposition centered on the school – or any other Type 2 charter – receiving local tax revenue from another parish if students crossed parish lines to attend the school, and whether tax revenues dedicated to St. Landry Parish schools could be shared with a charter school.

Riverview Charter School begins enrollment process for next year
Riverview Charter School of Beaufort received 375 applications for 68 openings during last month’s enrollment period for next school year, according to Alison Thomas, chairwoman of the school’s board. About 37 percent of the applications are from minorities. Twenty-one percent of the applicants are black, she said. This year’s enrollment period yielded a higher number of minority applicants than last year’s. In 2009, 23 percent of the applications were from minorities, about 10 percent of whom were black.

School board rejects Riverview Charter plan to add more classes
The Beaufort, SC school board rejected Riverview’s request to add more classes, saying the district can’t afford to expand the charter school during a recession, when school resources are shrinking. OCR decided last summer that Riverview’s enrollment did not comply with the county school district’s 1970 desegregation agreement, requiring the percentage of white and black students in each school to approximate the district-wide percentage. To comply, Riverview must recruit more black students or close as soon as next fall. The school is working to enroll at least 11 percent black students and less than 59 percent white students to be within 20 percentage points of the district’s black and white enrollments in kindergarten through sixth grade. Plans proposed by Riverview officials would have added extra classes and given minority students preference when filling the extra spots.

Parents defend diversity and oppose dithering
The public hearing last week was held to discuss year-round versus traditional school calendars, but many who turned out wanted to talk about neighborhood schools and their effect on diversity. About 100 people turned up at Holly Springs High School on Feb. 8 for the first of five “community engagement meetings” set up by the school board. The goal is to use information from the meetings – along with the results of a survey on school calendars – to make decisions about the year-round schools for the 2010-2011 school year and in the long term.

School board’s direction concerned Burns
Concerns about major policy changes within the Wake County Public School System led the superintendent to announce his intent to resign at the end of the school year, a former school board member says, citing “personal and obligatory considerations,” Del Burns surprised school board members Tuesday when he said that he could not “in good conscience” continue to serve in the post he has held for nearly four years.

Schools have vacancies at top
Wake’s new school board majority, taking its first steps toward transformation of the 140,000-student system, suddenly finds itself with the district’s top administrator and a key lieutenant both on their way out. Superintendent Del Burns’ sudden announcement Tuesday of his resignation took place with assistant superintendent Chuck Dulaney’s previously announced departure date of March 1 less than two weeks away. Burns’ resignation is effective June 30. “That’s a lot of institutional knowledge that’s being lost in a short amount of time,” board member Keith Sutton said. “I feel complete shock, surprise and sadness that he’s retiring.” Members of the board majority said they wanted to work with Burns on plans for a new assignment system but would forge ahead.

Neighborhood schools in wake would cause massive overcrowding, concentrations of poor students
According to a white paper released by the Wake Education Partnership today, an assignment plan in Wake County that abandons the magnet school policy and sent students to their nearest schools would cause “dozens of capacity problems.” A move to abandon year-round schools would greatly compound the enormous capacity problems such a change in assignment policy would cause.

Wake board discusses student assignments
The Wake County school board began the process today of discussing changes that are expected to lead to the end of busing for socioeconomic diversity in favor of neighborhoods schools. Members of the new school board majority elected last fall have proposed policy changes that would eliminate references to diversity while making proximity to home a priority in assigning students. The changes were referred to the board’s policy committee, which began discussing how to revise the way students are assigned in the state’s largest school district. Debra Goldman, a new school board member and chairwoman of the policy committee, promised a lengthy review before changes are made.

Pastors urged to fight school plan
At a Thursday meeting with a group of mostly downtown ministers, the head of the state’s NAACP urged them to get behind what is fast-becoming his signature issue: opposition to the Wake County school board’s attempt to end its diversity policy.”There’s got to be a sense of urgency coming out of the church,” said the Rev. William Barber to a gathering of a dozen ministers and other church leaders.

Critics say survey tells Wake board to rethink
Plans by the Wake County school board’s ruling majority to overhaul the way students are assigned are being complicated by the board’s own survey, which shows nearly all parents like the status quo. Results released this week show that 94.5 percent of the nearly 40,000 parents who participated in the survey said they were satisfied or very satisfied with where their children attend school, regardless of whether a traditional or year-round calendar is used. That satisfaction level extends across North Carolina’s largest school district, from parents of magnet school kids to those whose children attend schools with a more basic curriculum.

Wake school chair says he wants NAACP meeting about diversity
The president of the state NAACP wants to know why Wake County’s school board chairman denied a request to speak before the full board regarding the district’s longstanding diversity policy. Rev. William Barber said Thursday that he sent a letter to school board Chairman Ron Margiotta asking to give a 45-minutes presentation but that Margiotta offered him only an opportunity to meet with the board’s leadership.

School calendar suits most parents
Although mandatory year-round schools have long been contentious in Wake County, a new school district survey shows most families don’t mind the calendar. Nearly nine out of 10 of all Wake County parents who answered the survey on year-round and traditional-calendar schools are satisfied with their child’s schedule, school board members were told at a meeting Tuesday. Only at three of Wake’s 51 year-round schools – Leesville Road Middle, Salem Middle and Wakefield Elementary – did a majority say they would prefer the traditional calendar.

Overhaul could strip magnets of their appeal
This fall could mark the final year of Wake County’s school diversity policy as the new ruling coalition on the school board develops a plan that overhauls where and how children are educated. A member of the School Board propose spreading magnet schools around the county – removing programs from some of the 33 existing magnet schools, most of which are clustered inside the Beltline around Raleigh. Tedesco’s plan would lead to the creation of high-poverty schools in some areas, which he said could be addressed by giving such schools additional money. But the main challenge to implementing the plan may come from members of the board majority. Tedesco’s plan confirms the fears of magnet parents who’ve been the most vocal critics of the new school board majority. They’ve argued that abandoning the diversity policy and significantly altering the magnet program would lead to de facto resegregation.

Mayors give school board advice, pep talk
Wake County mayors and school board members met Friday morning in a discussion that was mostly cordial but highlighted ideological differences that could shape town-gown relations.
Members of the Wake County Mayors’ Association shared their town’s needs and concerns with six school board members at an introductory breakfast in the Herbert C. Young Community Center in Cary.

Diversity takes a backseat in Wake schools
The first Monday evening in January, Wake County Board of Education member John Tedesco met with worried parents at Combs Elementary School in Southwest Raleigh. The subject was the county’s nationally recognized system of magnet schools, including Combs, and whether it can survive the new board majority’s push for “neighborhood schools”-and away from the diversity policy that’s been linked with the magnets for 25 years. Part of the new majority, Tedesco was non-committal. “I don’t want to dismantle the magnet system,” he said initially. “I think it’s a great system.” But later he acknowledged that some magnet schools could lose their special programs in order to create new magnet schools “in some zones.”

NAACP speaks out against board’s plan for neighborhood schools
Neighborhood schools in Wake County could create “pockets of poverty” and move the school system into a policy of segregation because of their socio-economic status, the state’s NAACP chapter president said Monday. “What we know from history and from the fact that even under the guise of neighborhood schools, which is nothing more than another name for re-segregation,” the Rev. William Barber said. “Re-segregation is the enemy of school excellence.”

Timothy Tyson: North Carolina schools must look forward, not backward
Thirty-six years ago, I attended newly-integrated Williston School. Gospel singer Mary D. Williams and I now teach an evening course at Williston each fall called “Wilmington in Black and White.” Hundreds of local folks, black and white, gather to talk about race, history and the challenges that confront this community. Those of us who value successful school systems, whether we are black or white, wealthy or otherwise, must refuse to live in the unrecoverable and overrated past. We must resist falling into the trap of pitting “diversity” versus “parental responsibility,” as if you could only check one box. Instead, we need to ask the grown-up question: Where do we go from here?

Gurley: Schools deny students to raise test scores
Wake County commissioners’ Chairman Tony Gurley accused the school system Monday of deliberately not offering students access to algebra in middle school to raise test scores.
Gurley was reacting to a SAS Institute report presented to the commissioners at a work session Monday. It found that only about half of the Wake County students who are ready to take Algebra I in middle school do so. The participation rate is much lower for black and Hispanic students than for their white peers.

A lengthy hearing on PCSSD expected
Representatives of the Pulaski County Special School District expect another lengthy hearing to begin on Feb. 22 as part of its petition for unitary status. The Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special school districts have been interlocked in an expensive, extensive desegregation agreement for about three decades. It will be easier for Jacksonville to detach from PCSSD and form its own district if the desegregation settlements and court oversight are ended. Walker has said a separate Jacksonville district hurts desegregation and that he’s opposed to it.

Federal monitor rejects Westchester ‘plan’ for compliance with desegregation order
anti-discrimination center report details county’s attempt to maintain status quo
Six months after Westchester entered into a historic federal court Settlement Order to resolve a lawsuit brought by the Anti-Discrimination Center (ADC), the federal Monitor overseeing the case has rejected the County’s inadequate plan for compliance. The rejection came hard on the heels of ADC’s issuance of “Prescription for Failure,” a report finding that Westchester is brazenly refusing to comply with critical elements of its Settlement Order obligations. The Monitor directed Westchester to review ADC’s report, putting the County on notice that he was likely to request the County’s response to at least some of the issues raised by “Prescription for Failure.”

Board to talk Plan C, proposal means less busing for elementary kids
The Jackson-Madison County School Board (Tennessee) will discuss a school reorganization proposal during tonight’s work session. The proposal, referred to as Plan C, involves less busing for elementary students, officials said. The plan also calls for a K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 grade configuration. Board members authorized their attorney, Dale Conder Jr., to ask the federal judge in the school system’s 47-year-old desegregation lawsuit to give officials until Feb. 26 to come up with a plan to address student assignment.

School officials hope to reach racial balance through student assignment
Jackson-Madison County School Board members say they are optimistic that they can agree on a student assignment plan that would meet the goals under the district’s federal desegregation court order. Issues facing the board include whether to create more neighborhood schools, eliminate intermediate schools and increase or decrease busing to create racial balance.

The Netherlands should do whatever it takes to desegregate its primary schools, American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson has said
The existence of so-called “black” and “white” schools in the Netherlands is not a result of government policy. In fact, ethnic segregation is caused by the freedom of school choice that parents have. Native Dutch people who are relatively well-off can afford to send their children to schools which they think are better: usually a school with a mixed population elsewhere in town. Their immigrant neighbours’ children still go to the school around the corner. Another factor leading to segregation is the right to found schools on religious principles. Children in Christian schools are mainly native-Dutch, while Muslim or Hindu schools’ populations are mostly of immigrant origin.

Education committee considers statewide open enrollment
Most Missouri public school students would be allowed to enroll in any district they pleased beginning with the 2011-12 school year under a bill now before the Senate Education Committee. Although the issue has long been pushed by metro-area lawmakers, it was a rural Missouri senator who sponsored the bill. “Open enrollment would allow families that are not satisfied with the education that they are receiving to look around at other schools in the area,” said Earl Simms, state director of the Children’s Educational Council, which represents children with physical and mental disabilities.

SF school board considers new plan for assigning students
The San Francisco Unified School District’s board of education planned to consider proposals Tuesday night to revamp the district’s student assignment process. The board planned to discuss a report by a research team at Stanford University that simulated five different student assignment options being explored by the school district. The report looked at historical choice data to determine the implications of the various options.

Revamp simplifies S.F. school choice
A school assignment system that for nearly a decade has failed to desegregate San Francisco’s public schools while frustrating parents in its complexity is about to be replaced. The new system is expected to make it much easier for parents to apply to schools for their children and could take into account, at least in part, a family’s proximity to a school. The proposals recommended by staff would do little to address de facto segregation in district schools, a high priority for some school board members, but not necessarily for parents. Board member Jill Wynns said the first option prioritizing students by census tract would likely result in less racial isolation. “For me that is the bottom line,” she said of desegregation goals. “Neither (option) is as aggressive in that as I’d like them to be.”

Reality thwarts theory in desegregation campaign
During the long effort to desegregate Hartford’s schools, state officials helped create and support more than 20 magnet schools they hoped would attract minority children from the city and whites from nearby suburbs. The specialized open-enrollment magnets have proven to be popular choices for minority families, including many from suburbs that have undergone dramatic population shifts since a landmark school desegregation court ruling more than a decade ago. The influx of minority children under a color-blind lottery selection process has made it increasingly challenging for some magnet schools to enroll enough white students to meet racial integration goals under a court-approved settlement of the Sheff vs. O’Neill desegregation lawsuit.

Feds say Evans students’ rights weren’t violated
Orange County’s School Board (Florida) did not violate the civil rights of Evans High School students when it failed to challenge a County Commission decision that blocked the school from moving to a new location, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has ruled. The board, in opting to rebuild the campus at its current location at Silver Star and Pine Hills roads, complied “with its continuing obligation to promote equal access to its programs,” Doris N. Shields, an investigator with the Office of Civil Rights, wrote to Superintendent Ronald Blocker. Her office had been looking into allegations that the board’s decisions in moving and rebuilding the 51-year-old campus discriminated against nearly 1,000 Evans students. More than 85 percent of them are black.

At top city schools, lack of diversity persists
Just seven black students were admitted to Stuyvesant High School’s incoming freshman class, down from a dozen last year, according to numbers released Friday by the city’s Education Department. The number of Hispanics also dropped incrementally, with 17 being admitted this year, compared with 24 last year. A total of 958 students were admitted last week for next year’s freshman class at Stuyvesant, long regarded as the crown jewel of the city’s schools. For the last several years, education officials have struggled to explain the lack of racial diversity in the city’s elite public high schools. Admissions to the schools, including Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech and Bronx Science, are based entirely on the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test, offered each fall. Over the years, several critics have charged that the test is inadequate, and that it is unfair to make it the sole criteria for admission.

Judge will issue an opinion by end of May
Federal Judge Robert Dawson cancelled the February trial over the Arkansas School Choice law and says he will issue an opinion by the end of May on whether the law is unconstitutional. Attorneys on both sides say this is the first time this law has been challenged since it went into effect in 1989. It uses race as a factor to allow a student to transfer to another district. Eleven Malvern parents are suing the Arkansas Department of Education and Malvern School District for following the law. The Arkansas School Choice law says a student cannot transfer to another district if there are more students of his race there than in his home district. Yet, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that race cannot be used as a criterion in transfers unless it’s to remedy past desegregation issues.

CPSB questioned on unitary status
The specter of segregation reared its head at Tuesday’s Calcasieu Parish (Louisiana) School Board meeting, leading to emotionally charged comments from area parents about school overcrowding and claims that the quality of education in North Lake Charles is inferior. School Board member Bill Jongbloed placed the issue of the parish’s Unitary Status on the meeting agenda. His purpose, he said, was to give School Superintendent Wayne Savoy the go ahead to get legal council opinion in order to push this matter to federal court.

Parents camp out, line up to grab limited Dallas magnet school slots
Parents camped out in the early morning cold, stood in long lines and filled school auditoriums on Monday, the start of the magnet application season. Dallas ISD’s elite magnet schools admit students based on grades, test scores and other factors, and spaces are limited. The district’s long-term strategy generally focuses on creating magnet schools as part of existing schools, rather than as stand-alone campuses such as Townview. The exception is a planned boys-only magnet.

Desegregation: $1 billion later
For the first time, the Tucson Unified School District has a formal plan on how to narrow the achievement gap that still exists between Anglo and minority students despite more than 30 years of court oversight and $1 billion in taxpayer money. The question is: Will the plan be enough to solve TUSD’s problems without an enforcement mechanism?

TUSD vows adherence to plan amid skepticism
Even TUSD Superintendent Elizabeth Celania-Fagen isn’t sure if the plan is the answer, and she acknowledges that implementing some of the programs without extra funding may prove difficult. But some wonder if the district was ever on the right track, considering the mixed results of the billion-dollar desegregation effort. TUSD still has 28 schools that are racially identifiable – having at least 90 percent minority students. The TUSD plan on how to go forward was drafted by the plaintiffs and the district, but that hasn’t stopped the Hispanic plaintiffs from appealing the judge’s ruling to lift the order. It’s not that they don’t like the plan, said Cynthia Valenzuela, head of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, saying it’s a good road map for getting to a more equitable education system. But Valenzuela wants court oversight to continue for two more years to give everyone a chance to see if any improvements are actually happening and, if not, tweak the plan.

Desegregation: What was it like for those involved?
Valenzuela recalls leaving her working-class Latino and black neighborhood on the west side for a 30-minute bus ride to Mansfeld Middle School, in the heart of the city, across the street from the University of Arizona. The university, she recalls, was “a symbolic and daily reminder that college was within my reach.” At Tucson High, she took Advanced Placement and honors classes, some taught by university professors – an opportunity she wouldn’t have had in her neighborhood high school. It was then she decided she could become a lawyer. Clearly, the system worked for her. But today, she maintains the district failed to fully desegregate its schools, leaving vast tracts of students behind.

Open enrollment gives students more choices
It’s a game changer when it comes to education in Douglas and Sarpy Counties: a new plan that allows students to apply to any public school within the Omaha Learning Community. Through an open enrollment process, parents can now try to send their kids to any building in any of the 11 districts, as long as there’s room. The goal is to help improve academic achievement for disadvantaged students by better mixing rich and poor kids in schools across the area.

American parents are riding a wave of greater choices in public education, and that wave is sweeping into the Omaha metro area this month.
A state diversity plan will give metro-area parents greater choice in where to send their children to school. With deadlines fast approaching, we answer the most common questions for parents.
Q. Why did the Nebraska Legislature establish open enrollment?
A. To help improve academic achievement for disadvantaged youth. The goal is to alter enrollment in every learning community school to reflect the overall balance of affluent and poor students in the learning community. This year, the learning community overall has 40 percent low-income students, measured by how many students qualify for federal lunch subsidies. That’s the target for each school.

Trustees approve landmark agreement
Members of the ECISD (Texas) Board of Trustees, CRUCIAL, and school district administrators shared hugs and handshakes Tuesday night following a unanimous vote that effectively ends a nearly 30-year-old desegregation lawsuit. Trustees voted 6-0 to approve a Settlement Agreement worked out during three days of mediation on January 12, 13, and 14. Those involved in the mediation and the historic vote spoke excitedly about the sense of unity the parties gained during the process and the direction in which the school district and community are headed. The new settlement agreement calls for the Tri-Ethnic Committee to be broken into four task forces that will focus on the areas of Gifted/Talented education, English as a Second Language (ESL) education, hiring of minority faculty, and district growth.

City students vying for fewer deseg slots
Nidhi and Edgar Everett are hoping for the best of both worlds: living in their dream home in the city and sending their daughters to one of the best school districts in the state. And they’re hoping that St. Louis’ voluntary desegregation program – which has sent thousands of African-American students from the city to suburban school districts for decades – will be their ticket. This school year is theoretically the first year in decades that the desegregation program doesn’t have to exist. Now, the program is continuing not because school districts in the region have to participate, but because they want to.

Historic moment: Orange school board approves desegregation settlement; Unanimous decision likely will end almost 50 years of federal jurisdiction over Orange schools
It’s the end of an era – and the beginning of a new one – for Orange County public schools. While congratulating the board, however, many speakers – including members of the Orange County branch of the NAACP – warned they would be watching school leaders to make sure they follow through with promises contained in the settlement. The agreement leaves many desegregation-era practices – such as cross-town busing – in place and focuses heavily on upgrading the technology and buildings of old schools in black neighborhoods.

Seminole drops elementary rezoning plan after parents respond
After an outcry from angry parents, the Seminole County School Board has dropped a rezoning plan that would have affected eight Sanford-area elementary schools. Superintendent Bill Vogel said that instead of pressing ahead with the switch for the next school year, he will set up a committee of parents and school officials to find a solution that will make parents happier. The board had approved the switch after Vogel said it would save about $200,000 a year in busing costs.

New fast track to CPS top-flight schools?
You could live in a $600,000 home within walking distance of Wrigley Field, yet when your kids test to get into one of Chicago’s elite selective-enrollment schools, they may be competing mostly with children from the poorest neighborhoods in the city. A quirk in the Chicago Public Schools’ new enrollment system puts children from parts of some economically better-off neighborhoods such as the Near North Side, Albany Park, Rogers Park and Uptown in the same category as children from the city’s poorest areas, such as Englewood and Lawndale. That’s because the new system is designed to emphasize economic – rather than racial – diversity, and it assumes that where you live determines how well-off you are. Some, however, fear that wealthier families living in census tracts classified in the system as being “poorer” will now be able to “game the system” for admission to elite schools. Studies have shown that test scores closely track with income, and students from wealthier families will likely have an edge if they test against poorer students.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools: A New Attitude
The tone with the board has changed, it’s more civil and the goal has changed, too. A kinder, gentler CMS; that’s the message board of education members want you to know. The tone with the board has changed, it’s more civil and the goal has changed too. After a retreat this weekend, board members say they have a fresh perspective. One of the most contentious parts of CMS, boundary lines for school assignment, but board members say assignment lines won’t matter as much with their new focus. Board chair Eric Davis says the fundamental change is from compliance and inputs to merit and performance.

CMS board holds off assignment changes; members decide to tackle matters such as budget and equity first
Charlotte-Mecklenburg (North Carolina) school board members say they want to improve how they assign students to schools, but it won’t happen right away. The board, which includes five recently elected members, capped a two-day retreat Saturday with talk about how and whether to revise student assignment planning. Board member Rhonda Lennon was one of several voicing disappointment that the board didn’t make more progress Saturday. As a Realtor, she said she often sees families buy homes outside Mecklenburg County because nearby counties offer more school-assignment stability. A better assignment plan is “a huge component in building public trust,” she said.

Metco adds value to Wayland Public Schools
What might we call a club that limits its membership to 3,000 while maintaining a waiting list of over 12,000 applicants? Highly prized? Too exclusive? If the intent is not to deliberately limit membership, then the demand for admission might be a good reason to expand. A waiting list that dwarfs the entire membership can only mean the organizers are doing something right, and the demand for admission is proof the program’s purpose is not a secret. I know of one organization that meets many of the criteria mentioned above right here in Wayland, MA. After years of operation, this “club” remains highly successful, continues to deliver on all its original promises, and membership today is even more highly sought after than at its inception 45 years ago. What club is this? It’s Metco, a legislatively funded voluntary desegregation program that brings children of color from Boston and Springfield into 37 suburban communities for part or all of their public schooling.

Civil Rights office, school board agree to plan to reduce school segregation
The Beaufort County School District’s desegregation plan is meant to improve compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and eliminate vestiges of the once-segregated school system in Beaufort County. The plan has been amended several times since it was enacted 40 years ago. The district will be bound by the plan until a court or the U.S. Department of Education rules it has achieved “unitary status,” meaning the district has eliminated the effects of segregation “to the extent practicable.” The Beaufort County School District will gauge whether it has achieved this status in the 2014-15 school year and then decide whether to make its case to the federal government, according to the amendment approved Tuesday.

D.M. board weighs revising King, Perkins attendance boundaries
Two Des Moines elementary schools once paired as part of decades-old desegregation efforts could have separate attendance areas as early as next school year, school board members learned this week. Board members at their meeting this week weighed the pros and cons of implementing new attendance areas at King and Perkins before the proposal is presented to parents.

JCPS less than half way to diversity goal
Berman says district’s progress so far is better than expected

Halfway into the first year of Jefferson County Public Schools’ new student-assignment plan, less than half of the district’s elementary schools are in compliance with new diversity guidelines aimed at keeping schools integrated. According to statistics released by the district, 48 of the district’s 90 elementary schools have failed to meet the diversity goal of having between 15 percent and 50 percent of students coming from neighborhoods where the average household income is below $41,000; the average education levels are less than a high school diploma with some college; and the minority population is more than 48 percent.
“We knew that not all of our elementary schools would be in alignment with the diversity guideline the first year because we chose” to exempt more than 3,000 children who would have been moved under the plan to stay at their current schools, said Pat Todd, director of student assignment for the district

Lee County schools not about to change choice
Plan gets mixed reviews, but Browder supports it

For the better part of a century, Bonita Springs Elementary epitomized a neighborhood school. Children didn’t take the bus; they walked. Teachers weren’t strangers; they’d known students and their families for years. The school building was a community hub. A decade ago, school choice put an end to most neighborhood schools in Lee County, allowing students from as far away as Fort Myers to infiltrate Bonita classrooms. Suddenly, children in southwest Cape Coral could attend North Fort Myers schools, and Lehigh Acres children could take a seat in east Fort Myers. Current enrollment data show 70.8 percent of Lee parents did not choose the school closest to home, opting for a longer drive or bus ride for their children to reach their preferred school. District administration touts that statistic as evidence school choice is popular.

Missouri tries again on open enrollment in schools
A bill before the Missouri Legislature would allow many of the state’s parents to send their kids to whatever district they want, provided that district has room. The measure faces an uphill battle in Jefferson City, where it failed last year amid concerns that it would too radically alter the way school districts handle enrollment. It would not apply to the St. Louis Public Schools. But supporters of the bill are tapping in to a demand for school choice, saying the legislation would give parents like Green more options while creating an open market in education.

Hundreds of students can’t return to Beverly Hills schools
Hundreds of students attending Beverly Hills schools will have to find new campuses in the fall after a unanimous school board vote late Tuesday ended special permits for many children who live outside the city. Following more than four hours of debate that lasted until almost midnight, the board agreed to allow all current high school students to continue applying for permits each year, an action that won applause from a packed, emotional but civil crowd at Beverly Hills High.

District urged to revise student placement system
A blue-ribbon panel studying the desegregation of Montclair’s public schools has recommended that the Board of Education revise its system of student school assignments to comply with recent high court rulings and avert potential racial imbalances from developing in future enrollment. The School Integration Task Force has proposed that the district scrap race as one of the criteria it uses and instead adopt an enrollment by zone plan that will guide Montclair School District administrators in determining how students will be assigned to its seven elementary schools and three middle schools.

Portland’s high school reorganization slows down
The pace of the Portland school district’s 2-year-old effort to redesign its high schools has slowed considerably as school board members ask for more data, background information and time for discussion. Board members must reach consensus on whether they agree with staff plans to dismantle the long-standing transfer policy that essentially allows students to attend the high school of their choice as well as a staff-recommended enrollment goal at 1,250 to 1,350 for neighborhood high schools, said member Bobbie Regan. Board members also discussed whether the district should consider a school community’s strength, resources or academic success in deciding which ones to select for possible magnet programs.

Best approach: Redistricting is an opportunity for schools
Expect the coming weeks to provide a more thorough picture of how Pitt County Schools intends to proceed with its latest round of redistricting. Since approving a timeline for the effort in November, the public school system will next develop scenarios for approaching the sensitive and complex process. This will also be the first significant attempt to redraw attendance lines since the contentious 2005 redistricting divided the community. It was the Board of Education’s attempt to achieve greater racial balance in the schools that landed it before the federal Office of Civil Rights, and now subject to a federal court mediation agreement requiring that this process involve two parents’ groups in the negotiations.

Students see hard future if free fares are ended
When Alejandro Velazquez, 15, was selecting a high school last year, he decided on Washington Irving in Manhattan because of its strong Spanish-English bilingual program. It was a 40-minute trip from his home in the Bronx, but his mother assented, in part because he could travel free. His family’s calculus, he said, would have been different had he needed to pay $40 a month or more to get to and from school, a reality that will begin next fall if budget cuts passed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board on Wednesday are carried out. The cuts to the student subsidies for the MetroCards are not yet final. If the cuts are approved, the 584,000 city students who receive free or half-fare MetroCards would all receive half-fare cards beginning next September. In September 2011, they would pay full fares – nearly $700 for a school year at current rates.

Please send us your news
Please send reports, documents, court decisions, comments or suggestions for topics to: The Integration Report, Editor Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, at integrationrept@ucla.edu.
We are looking for any information regarding changes to transportation routes that may adversely affect racial diversity in light of increasing fuel costs. Please let us know if these issues are being discussed in your communities.

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Additional Resources for School Integration

**NEW** The links below provide a summary of the convening, “Reaffirming the Role of School Integration in K-12 Education Policy” at Howard University School of Law, Friday, November 13, 2009

The Center for Assessment and Policy Development (CAPD) and MP Associates would like to invite you to check out new resources at www.racialequitytools.org.
Racial Equity Tools Web site is designed to support people and groups who are working for inclusion, racial equity and social justice. The site includes ideas, strategies and tips, as well as a clearinghouse of resources and links from many sources

Past featured resources can be found in the Resources section of the TIR Web site.

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The Integration Report – Staff Members

Editor: Genevieve Siegel-Hawley
Editorial Committee: Erica Frankenberg, Gary Orfield, Laurie Russman
Webmaster: John Khuu

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The Integration Report is produced by the Initiative on School Integration at The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, and is supported by a grant from the Open Society Institute.

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