No Link Between Charters, Segregation

New study disproves commonly held myth

Critics of policies enabling parents to choose what type of public school their children attend often claim that these policies will increase racial segregation in public education. But support for this claim is largely based on poorly designed or flawed studies. Matt Chingos of the Brookings Institute examined this issue as it relates to charter schools, and found no evidence that allowing parents to choose charter public schools increases racial segregation.

Instead of simply comparing the racial composition of charter schools to that of conventional schools or districts (which other studies have done), Chingos tracks changes over time in racial composition in areas where charter schools actually operate. No matter which statistical methodology he employed or measure he used, Chingos found “the results consistently indicated no meaningful relationship between choice and segregation.”

Since enrollment in public schools is still largely determined by ZIP code, public schools remain highly segregated. Chingos discovered that the typical racial minority student attends a school where two-thirds of the students are also racial minorities. But this recent analysis should encourage those trying to provide low-income parents through charter schools the type of school options available to other parents, as these schools do not lead to more racial segregation.