Cobb, Casey, & Glass, Gene
Ethnic Segregation in Arizona Charter Schools
University of Connecticut
Is there evidence that charter schools are "skimming" White students?
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Educational Policy Analysis Archives
Vol. 7, No. 1
- Across all years, charter schools enrolled a considerably higher proportion of Black students than traditional public schools.
- Nearly half of the charter schools exhibited evidence of substantial ethnic separation.
- Arizona’s charter schools are significantly more segregated than the traditional public schools.
- The charter schools that had a majority of ethnic minority students enrolled in them tended to be either vocational secondary schools that do not lead to college of “schools of last resort” for students being expelled from the traditional public schools.
- The degree of ethnic separation in Arizona schools is large enough and consistent enough to warrant concern among education policymakers.
- 55 charters and 57 rural charters were examined. 10 urban and 17 rural charters were located in areas that were so homogeneous that ethnic separation was unlikely to occur, reducing the number of charters that could potentially segregated to 85.
- Basic assumption for the conclusions: charter schools enroll their students from surrounding or nearby neighborhoods.
- The social consequences of choice in education are mediated by the policies under which choice operates.
- The ethnic separation on the part of Arizona’s charter schools, though de facto, is an insidious by-product of unregulated school choice.
- At the very least, charter schools should be required to actively pursue ethnic representation.
- Legislation should mandate that charters delineate and put into practice strategies to attract ethnically diverse students.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Charter Schools, Choice, Ethnicity, Segregation
Secondary Survey Data
Method of Analysis:
Arizona public schools
Unit of Analysis:
- October enrollment data disaggregated by race and ethnicity, gender, and grade level for the years (1994-1997) obtained from the Arizona Department of education (ADE) School Finance Division for all public elementary and secondary schools in Arizona.
- The same information was collected for Arizona charter schools for the years 1995-1997.
- Digital map data of metropolitan Phoenix street grids, census tracts, and zip code boundaries were acquired from the data archives of the Arizona State University Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Laboratory.
- Site addresses of charter and traditional public schools were obtained from the ADE School Finance Division.
- ADE October enrollments for the years 1995-1997 were aggregated by year for all schools.
- Data were available for 55 charter and 518 traditional public schools in metropolitan Phoenix.
- Used a total of 57 rural charter and 88 public schools from 36 rural Arizona towns was examined. In sum, the ethnic compositions of 55 urban and 57 rural charter schools were inspected relative to their traditional public school neighbors.
- Incorporates the use of geographic maps to compare schools’ ethnic make-ups.
- Direct comparison between charter and traditional public schools.
- The core of the analysis involved a series of comparisons between the ethnic compositions of adjacent charter and public schools in Arizona’s most populated region and its rural towns. (Exploratory analysis using Arc view)
- This methodology examines the potential for ethnic separation at the disaggregated level of schools. For half of the charter schools it also makes explicit comparisons within the context of geographic maps.