The Washington Post reports from a town in the Louisiana Delta.
VACHERIE, La. — At the new public charter school in this Mississippi River town, nearly all the students are African American. Parents seem unconcerned about that. They just hope their children will get a better education.
“I wanted my girls to soar higher,” said Alfreda Cooper, who is black and has two daughters at Greater Grace Charter Academy.
Three hours up the road, students at Delta Charter School in Concordia Parish are overwhelmingly white, even though the surrounding community is far more mixed.
As the charter school movement accelerates across the country, a critical question remains unanswered: whether the creation of charters is accelerating school segregation. Federal judges who oversee desegregation plans in Louisiana are wrestling with that issue at a time when President Trump wants to spend billions of dollars on charter schools, vouchers and other “school choice” initiatives.
In February, a judge found that Delta Charter had violated the terms of the parish’s court-ordered desegregation plan and asked the parties to submit proposals for how to move forward. The local school board in Concordia not only is seeking reimbursement of millions of dollars, but also wants the judge to require the charter school to cancel its enrollment and start over with the aim of creating a more diverse student body. That would include offering transportation to the school — something that could make it possible for more black students to attend.
The nation’s schools have become more segregated by race and class over the past two decades, according to federal data, and some research indicates that charter schools are more likely to be segregated than traditional public schools. Some charter advocates say they are more interested in creating good schools for marginalized children as quickly as possible — no matter the consequences for the racial makeup of enrollment.
Choice gives Southern whites the opportunity to restore racial segregation without saying so openly.
The great retreat from the goal of desegregation is underway, rolling back advances wherever they occurred, and charter operators are more than willing to lure students who are all black or all white. Charters are the new segregation academies.
As an aside, the article cites Urban Prep Academy as a charter in Chicago where 100% of students graduate and enroll in college. This is a myth that was exploded by Gary Rubinstein years ago. Urban Prep has high attrition and its students have lower test scores than students in Chicago’s public schools.
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