Duke professors have found that charter schools in North Carolina are tied to an unsettling trend of re-segregation that started around the time the state’s first charter schools opened in 1997. The professors state that charter schools have provided a way for white parents to remove their children from the public school system.

Economics professor Helen Ladd, one of the authors of the draft report, stated to the Washington Post, “They appear pretty clearly to be a way for white students to get out of more racially integrated schools.” Proof that the professors are on to something is the fact that charter schools in North Carolina tend to be overwhelmingly made up of students who are white or Black, as opposed to traditional public schools whose racial composition is more evenly distributed.

More than two-thirds of the states charter schools are considered highly segregated, meaning they are more than 80 percent or less than 20 percent white. Linking the trend to charter schools is the statistic that shows that in 1998, less than 10 percent of charter schools were overwhelmingly segregated, with more than 90 percent of the students being white; by 2014, one-fifth of all charter schools were more than 90 percent white.

Although charter school admission processes are race-blind, white students simply do not apply to schools that they do not consider white enough, making it impossible for charter schools to more thoroughly integrate. Prior research shows that white parents in North Carolina prefer to send their children to schools that are less than 20 percent Black. More than a quarter of schoolchildren in North Carolina are Black, meaning white parents do not prefer to send their children to schools that reflect the diversity of the general population.

The authors sum up the trend stating, “Even though Black parents might prefer racially balanced schools, the fact that white parents prefer schools with far lower proportions of Black student sets up a tippling point. Once a school becomes ‘too Black,’ it becomes almost all Black as white parents avoid it.”

North Carolina is not alone. The ACLU and the Community Legal Aid Society filed a complaint in December, citing the fact that charter schools in Delaware were re-segregating students, partly because charter schools there are allowed to impose admissions requirements. Without proper planning, charter schools all over the country are running the risk of resurrecting the once private “segregation academies” that allowed white parents to send their children to segregated schools to avoid integration.


Post by The NON-Conformist