Corporate-run charter schools show segregation patterns
Feb. 11, 2010
KALAMAZOO--A new study by researchers at Western Michigan University and two other institutions finds charter schools operated by corporations are segregated by race, income, disability and language.
The comprehensive examination of enrollment patterns in schools operated by education management organizations, or EMOs, finds those schools are substantially more segregated, and the strong segregative pattern found in 2001 was virtually unchanged through 2007.
The study was jointly released this week by the College of Education and Human Development at Western Michigan University, the Education Policy Research Unit at Arizona State University and the Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
The new study, "Schools Without Diversity: Education Management Organizations, Charter Schools and the Demographic Stratification of the American School System," was written by Dr. Gary Miron, WMU professor of educational leadership, research and technology; Jessica Urschel, a WMU graduate research assistant; Elana Tornquist, a WMU research assistant; and William Mathis of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
"Given that educational equality, whether financial or programmatic, has not occurred in this nation, the perpetuation of educational policies that have the effect of further dividing society is troubling and calls for rectification," says Miron, the study's lead researcher.
The EMO study is particularly important because the Obama administration has placed a great deal of faith in the scaling up of nonprofit EMOs, sometimes called charter management organizations or CMOs, as part of the administration's turnaround strategy. The findings of this new study suggest that these policies have the very real potential to be harmful to the nation's social and educational interests.
"Charter schools were originally intended to provide distinctive learning environments," Miron observes. "As it turns out, what is often most distinctive about charters is the composition of their student bodies."
The schools show evidence both of white flight and minority flight.
"Parents are selecting schools where their child will experience less diversity," Miron says.
For more information, call Dr. Gary Miron, WMU professor of educational leadership, research and technology, at (269) 599-7965. For a copy of the report, visit: http://epicpolicy.org/publication/schools-without-diversity.
To learn more about this and other reports prepared by the study group on EMOs at Western Michigan University, visit the group's Web site at wmich.edu/ed-management-orgs.
Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org