Tuesday, March 20, 2018

New Report Blisters North Carolina for Its School Segregation, Pointing to School Assignments and Charter School Growth As Problems

The North Carolina Justice Center has released a study of school segregation trends in the state over the last decade.  Its highest level findings include:

● The number of racially and economically isolated schools has increased
● Districts’ racial distribution is mixed, but economic segregation is on the rise
● Large school districts could be doing much more to integrate their schools
● School district boundaries are still used to maintain segregated school systems
● Charter schools tend to exacerbate segregation

The Center warns that things could get worse soon: "[I]n 2017, the General Assembly has created the Joint Legislative Study Committee on the Division of Local School Administrative Units, which many advocates fear is an attempt to begin the process of re-segregating urban school districts."

This chart shows the increase in the number and percentage of racially and socio-economically isolated schools in the state.  The increase in poverty concentration is the most staggering, nearly doubling.  While some of this increase is attributable to the fact that the percentage of poor students in the state increased by 23 percent, the increase in high poverty schools dwarfs that number.  In other words, school assignment and charter school policies are exacerbating the problem.


The role of charter schools, however, may be the hardest to swallow.  First of all, North Carolina law originally required that charters reasonably reflect the overall demographics of the district in which they reside.  Even the watered down new version of the law requires that charters make "reasonable efforts" to maintain a study body that matches the district.  Second, charter schools don't even come close.  They appear to do the opposite.  More specifically, as I have pointed out several times, North Carolina's charter system seems to create incentives for "white flight" in districts that are otherwise relatively racially balanced.  This chart furthers my concern.



On a global level, the Center's report found that "[i]n 72 percent of the counties with at least one charter school, charter schools increase the degree of racial segregation in the district, as measured by the racial dissimilarity index."  


Charters and Vouchers, Racial Integration and Diversity | Permalink


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