Duke study: Charter school segregation worsens in North Carolina

Dive Brief:

  • Racial segregation is a concern in North Carolina schools, a new Duke University survey finds, with charter schools especially divided along socioeconomic and racial lines. "... our findings imply that the charter schools in North Carolina are increasingly serving the interests of relatively able white students in racially imbalanced schools," the study said.
  • The study suggests one reason why charters are more segregated is that they aren't mandated to offer free and reduced meals or bus transportation, and are therefore not viable options for students who need such services.
  • In the state, at first, black students were over-represented in charters, but that trend has flipped, and there is an overload of white students: "The percentage of charter school kids in mainly white schools has almost doubled since the late 1990s," New Orleans Public Radio reports.

Dive Insight:

Nationwide, the issue of resegregation in schools is a trend on the rise. States are grappling with how to proceed.  

In Minnesota, for example, the civil rights lawyer who previously filed a lawsuit to help desegregate schools in the early 1990's has recently taken the issue to the courts seeking further help. That suit "seeks class action status for children in Minneapolis public schools and St. Paul public schools," on behalf of their majority-students-of-color population, naming the state, its governor, and its education commissioner as defendants. An analysis by the Minneapolis Star Tribune found that 19 district elementary schools are 80% minority students, while two are almost entirely white.

And in California, a study by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA found that the average Latino student attends 84% non-white schools in impoverished areas. But existing data is scarce, and the Civil Rights Project says segregation is a long-term trend for Latino students that is worsening.

Districts in 14 states currently have active desegregation lawsuits with the U.S. Justice Department, with Mississippi and Alabama having 44 and 43 lawsuits each, respectively.

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Filed Under: K12 Policy & Regulation