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Adolescence, ÊSpring, 1996 Êby Adele M. DeBlassie, ÊRichard R. DeBlassie
IDEAS & TRENDS; Rethinking Deliberately Segregated Schools
By SUSAN CHIRA Published: July 11, 1993
Ethnic Identity and Power: Cultural Contexts of Political Action in School ...ÊBy Yali Zou, Enrique T. Trueba, Henry T. Trueba
By Yali Zou, Enrique T . Trueba, Henry T . Trueba Contributor Yali Zou , Enrique T. Trueba , Henry T. Trueba Published 1998 SUNY Press Politics and education 452 pages ISBN:0791437531 The relationship between ethnic identity and power has important consequences in a modern world that is changing rapidly through global immigration trends. Studies of ethnic/ racial conflict of ethnic identity and power become necessarily studies of political power, social status, school achievement, and allocation of resources. The recognition of power by an ethnic group, however, creates a competition for control and a rivalry for power over public arenas, such as schools.In this context this book provides interesting and important insights into the dilemmas faced by immigrants and members of ethnic groups, by school personnel, and by policy makers. The first part of the book consists of comparative studies of ethnic identity. The second part focuses directly on some of the lessons learned from social science research on ethnic identification and the critical study of equity, with its implications for pedagogy. An interdisciplinary group of scholars offers profoundly honest and stimulating accounts of their
struggles to decipher selfidentification processes in various political contexts, as well as their personal reflections on the study of ethnicity.A powerful message emerges that invites reflection about selfidentification processes, and that allows a deeper understanding of the empowering consequences of a clear and strong personal, cultural, ethnic, and social identity. These pages offer a keen grasp of the undeniable political contexts of education.
Forced Justice by David J. Armor in Books
By David J. Armor Oxford University Press (1995) Hardback 271 pages ISBN In Forced Justice, David J. Armor explores the benefits and drawbacks of voluntary and involuntary desegregation plans, especially those in communities with "magnet" schools. He finds that voluntary plans, which let parents decide which school program is best for their children, are just as effective in attaining longterm desegregation as mandatory busing, and that these plans generate far greater community support. Armor concludes by proposing a new policy of "equity" choice, which draws upon the best features of both the desegregation and choice movements. This policy promises both improved desegregation and greater educational choices for all, especially for the disadvantaged minority children in urban systems who now have the fewest educational choices. The debate over desegregation policy and its many consequences needs to move beyond academic journals and courtrooms to a larger audience. In addition to educators and policymakers, Forced Justice will be an important book for social scientists, attorneys and specialists in civil rights issues, and all persons concerned about the state of public education Ç less
Segregation in Residential Areas by Amos Henry Hawley, Vincent P. Rock,
Social Science Panel in Books
Segregation in Residential Areas: Papers on Racial and Socioeconomic Factors in Choice of Housing
by Hawley, Amos H. and Vincent P. Rock., eds. Div. of Behavioral Sciences, National Research Council
Rethinking School Choice [Paperback] By Henig, Jeffrey R.
by Jeffrey R. Henig This book disputes the appropriateness of the market metaphor as a guide to education policy. Engaging the debate on the levels both of empirical analysis and democratic theory, Jeffrey R. Henig traces the evolution of school choice as an idea and in practice. Its legacy, he observes, is a mixed one. Sometimes it has been a vehicle for racial and economic segregation, with divisive and corrosive effects. Where school choice has worked, the record shows, it has depended less on the magic of the market than on an elusive combination of strong political leadership, resolute governmental commitment, supportive coalitions of private interests, and a willingness on all sides to challenge parochial gain in the name of the larger social good.
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May 10, 1991 ¥ Volume 1 By Richard L. Worsnop
Would it strengthen or weaken public education in America?
Among educational reformers, ÒchoiceÓ s the buzzword of the hour. Supporters say the entire educational system would benefit if parents could choose their children's schools. In this view, competition for students would force schools to improve. Better schools, in turn, would prod students to do better. And parents, having set the whole process in motion, would take a greater interest in the schools and in their children's academic progress. President Bush supports the concept, but many teachers and school administrators are deeply skeptical. They fear that choice plans will siphon money and interest from public schools, will
create elite schools for the few and secondrate schools for the many, will lead to increased segregation of students by race and income, and will cost taxpayers more money.
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Few issues generate more emotion these days than the quality of public education in America. The widespread disenchantment with the state of the country's schools found eloquent expression in a report issued in April 1983 by a blueribbon federal panel. Entitled A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform, the report warned that Òthe educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and a people.Ó The report caused a stir at the time, and public opinion polls and political discourse indicate its conclusions are considered by many Americans to be as accurate and timely today as they were eight years ago. Now some academics, politicians and publicpolicy experts have stepped forward with what they consider a solution to the woes of American public education. It goes by the name of Òchoice,Ó and it aims to give parents a much broader range of options in deciding where to send their children to school. For parents, the idea is that this would mean greater ÒempowermentÓ in determining what kind of education their children will get. For schools, the idea is that it would mean a heightened awareness of parents' wishes and greater incentives for re spending to them. Proponents of choice say this concept ...would greatly improve the quality of teaching. Parents would vote with their feetÑor their car poolsÑin determining where to send their children. .. In the view of choice advocates, the winners would be parents, students and educators committed to excellence. They say the losers would be the country's entrenched education bureaucracy and educators who either failed or refused to respond to the call for excellence. The choice concept has caught on in many quarters throughout the country. Minnesota has what is probably the most comprehensive statewide program, but more limited versions have sprung up in other states. ...But while choice seems to be today's leading answer to the lingering problem of educational mediocrity, it raises a host of questions that many educators and academic experts find
troubling. They say that choice plans will siphon money and interest from public schools, will create elite schools for the few and secondrate schools for the many, will lead to increased segregation of students by race and income, and will cost taxpayers more money. Teachers and school officials, moreover, are apprehensive about the changes that freewheeling competition among schools might bring. Among the questions raised by this new concept:
Does school choice lead to improved student achievement in the classroom?
The key contention of choice advocates is that their approach will enhance student performance. A major reason for poor academic performance, they say, is that students are not challenged to perform at the top of their academic potential. ... more stimulating classroom environment would surely yield higher overall scores on standard achievement tests. Choice advocates note that parental involvement in their children's education is an important indicator of student achievement, and they argue that the mere act of choosing a school can serve as a catalyst for increased parental involvement...But critics contend that many school choices will be made on the basis of factors that have nothing to do with academics. They foresee parents choosing schools because of their proximity to their homes or because they excel in a particular sport. ... Choice proponents argue that switching schools for the sake of convenience or a better sports program is not necessarily a bad thing. Choice proponents often point to testscore statistics from schools in choice programs to bolster their contention that choice promotes academic improvement. Critics argue that these statistics are open to differing interpretations. ...higher test scores could just as likely reflect that increased proportion of bright and motivated students than anything related to the curriculum.
Will choice programs lead to the creation of segregated or elitist schools, with the best students being lured to the best schools and the less gifted left behind?
Choice critics warn that the best schools will lure most of the brightest students...Proponents argue that this doesn't have to happen. For one thing, most
existing choice programs prohibit transfers that would undermine school desegregation plans. Proponents also say schools in choice networks won't necessarily tailor their academic programs merely to the brightest students. More likely, says education Professor Mary Anne Raywid of Hofstra University, they will construct curricular programs designed to draw a wide diversity of studentsÑthose who need special help, those interested in math, science, the arts, etc. ÒIf É you put the programs together so that they appeal across ability and achievement levels, then [a twotier system] is not an inescapable outcome at all,Ó she says. ...Some public opinion polls indicate that blacks and other minorities favor choice plans even more than whites. ... ÒMost AfricanAmericans and lowincome people feel very helpless when it comes to the education of their children,Ó she says. ÒWe don't have choice because we don't have the money.Ó
Should secular and churchrelated private schools be included in a choice program designed primarily for public school students?
... Many experts, including choice advocates as well as opponents, argue that including private and parochial schools in a choice system could destroy the public education system in America. They predict that great numbers of private schools would emerge to answer parental desires and avail themselves of funds previously reserved to the public education system. ...Others suggest that if parents would abandon the public schools to such an extent, it reflects just how bad they areÑand how desperately parents want to see improvements. ...Would
choice undermine the current education establishment and transfer responsibility for choosing curricula, setting graduation standards and running the schools? And, if so, is that a good idea?
Two leading choice advocates John E. Chubb and Terry M. Moe, authors of a recent Brookings Institution book on the subjectÑargue that the education establishment itself is the problem and needs to be dismantled. They would place nearly all accountability in the hands of individual schools, teachers and parents.
...They add that these schools have eliminated many of the old rules and requirements that emerged from the education bureaucracy and stifled creativity. In these schools, they write, Òteachers, parents and students are all encouraged to think of themselves as their schools' ÔownersÕ and to take the responsibilitiesÑand the pride and involvementÑthat real ownership entails.Ó Others balk at this expansive freemarket approach to education, arguing that any choice system should operate within a framework of at least some outside political control. ... Finn advocates a system in which states would set what he calls Òessential outcome standardsÓÑthe body of knowledge required for graduationÑand then leave the schools free to meet those standards in their own way. He also says states should institute systems of testing to ensure their broad standards are being met.
Would choice programs increase educational expenditures?
...Critics say choice programs could end up adding to educational expenditures ...One of the chief concerns about choice plans is their impact on school transportation costs. ......others point out that the Richmond school district was in precarious financial shape even before Marks launched the choice program. For one thing, the district had been outspending its general fund revenues since 1984. By the time Marks took office as superintendent three years later, the fund had a deficit of more than $2 million. The district's deficit is now over $20 million. In Minnesota, most of the financial trauma associated with school choice has been at the local level, as school systems adjust to the loss or gain of state aid that results from student transfers across district lines. But according to Richard Anderson, executive director of the Minnesota School Boards Association, choice has had little financial impact on a statewide basis. Indeed, he notes, the Minnesota program was designed to be Òrevenueneutral.Ó
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There is little that is genuinely new about schoolchoice plans. Wealthy families, it is often noted, have always been able to send their children to the best schoolsÑprivate ones, for the most part, or the public school system of an affluent
suburb. The most highly regarded suburban public schools are almost as exclusive as the top private schools, since admission usually is restricted to community residents. Some cities offer bright students from families of limited means the chance to attend a collegeprep high school, provided they pass a rigorous entrance exam. Examples of such schools include Boston Latin School, one of the nation's oldest public schools, as well as New York's Bronx High School of Science, Chicago's Lane Technical High, Philadelphia's Central High and Cincinnati's Walnut Hills High. These Òexam schoolsÓ are not strictly comparable to the newer Òmagnet schoolsÓ now found throughout the country. Magnet schools offer specialized programs and generally are better funded and equipped than other schools in the district. In many cases, magnet schools are established in innercity neighborhoods as part of a desegregation plan. The idea is to attract white suburban students, thus achieving racial balance by voluntary means. Friedman's Voucher Proposal Many students of school choice trace the movement's origins to a 1962 book by economist Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, In this work, Friedman expounded his proposal for governmentfunded vouchers that would permit parents to send their children to a schoolÑpublic or privateÑof their choice. Under Friedman's plan, the government would provide parents with vouchers financed from tax revenues earmarked for education. The vouchers would be redeemed for cash by whatever school enrolled the children. Friedman suggested that the face value of the voucher be equivalent to the cost of educating a child in public school. Friedman argued that a voucher system would improve the quality of education in America by forcing schools to compete with one another for students. ÒIf present public expenditures on schooling were made available to parents regardless of where they send their children,Ó Friedman wrote, Òa wide variety of schools would spring up to meet the demand. ...
Supreme Court Rulings
The tuition voucher idea and its companion concept, tuition tax credits, appealed to political conservatives because of their freemarket connotations. Civil
libertarians, on the other hand, opposed such plans on constitutional grounds. They argued that vouchers and tuition tax credits that could be used in church related schools violated the First Amendment's ban on government ÒestablishmentÓ of religion. Over the years, the Supreme Court has taken a dim view of educational aid programs that mainly benefit parochial school pupils. On the other hand, the court has upheld the constitutionality of laws extending education benefits to all children, regardless of the type of school they attend. ...Action in Congress In the last dozen years or so, Congress has considered a number of tuition tax credit proposals, but none have been enacted into law. ... Reagan Backs Choice Plans The tuition tax credit concept was one of the cornerstones of the Reagan administration's education policy. ...Reagan said tuition tax credits were needed because parents were hard pressed to pay both private school tuition and taxes to support public schools. ...Reagan stressed that his tuition credit proposal would be focused on the needs of low and middle income families. ...Opponents of the 1983 tuition tax credit bill said it would not appreciably help low and middle income parents who wished to send their children to private schools. State and Local Plans Choice programs have made considerably more headway at the local and state level than at the federal level... Alum Rock Experiment Another early experiment in school choice also yielded inconclusive results. From 1972 to 1976, the federal government spent about $7 million on a demonstration program in California under which parents received publicly funded tuition vouchers to spend at public schools of their choice in the Alum Rock Unified School District near San Jose. The purpose of the experiment was to encourage community control of the schools, especially in poor and minority neighborhoods. Participating Alum Rock students in kindergarten through sixth grade got vouchers worth $680; seventhand eighthgraders got vouchers worth $970. Low income students also received a bonus voucher worth $275, which gave schools an incentive to enroll them and cater to their special needs. All voucher students
were bused to their schools for free. By 1976, the experiment's final year, 14 of Alum Rock's 24 elementary and middle schools were taking part in the voucher plan. These schools had subdivided themselves into 55 minischools, each with a highly focused curriculum. The Alum Rock experiment seems to have had only a modest impact on established patterns of school attendance. Initially, the vast majority of parents chose schools near their homes. By the third year of the program, the proportion of parents choosing schools outside their neighborhood had doubled rising from about 11 percent to about 22 percent. ...The authors of the report found little evidence that the voucher program led to improvements in reading scores or innovations in teaching methods. But they also cautioned that it would not be fair to use the results of the Alum Rock experiment to judge the success or failure of choice plans... Political Prospects President Bush's legislative initiative makes it likely that Congress will be the main forum for debate on school choice this year and next.
April 23, 2004 ¥ Volume 14, Issue 15 By Kenneth Jost
How can the promise of equal education be fulfilled?
Most black and Latino students today attend predominantly minority schools. All of the students at the Georgia Avenue Elementary School in Memphis, Tenn., are AfricanAmerican. (Memphis Public Schools)
This May the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark decision declaring racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional. But the promise of equal educational opportunity for all offered by the once controversial Brown v. Board of Education ruling is widely viewed as unfulfilled. Today, an increasing percentage of AfricanAmerican and Latino students attend schools with mostly other minorities Ñ a situation that critics blame on recent Supreme Court decisions easing judicial supervision of desegregation plans.
Black and Latino students also lag far behind whites in academic achievement. Schooldesegregation advocates call for stronger steps to break down racial and ethnic isolation and to upgrade schools that serve minority students. Critics of mandatory desegregation, however, say stronger accountability, stricter academic standards and parental choice will do more to improve education for all students.
...Is racial imbalance in schools increasing due to court
North Carolina's CharlotteMecklenburg County school system in 1971 became the first in the country to operate under a courtordered desegregation plan using widescale busing to achieve racial balance in school populations. Under the plan, AfricanAmericans comprised between 30 percent and 40 percent of the students at most of the schools through the 1970s and '80s. With public support for desegregation weakening, however, the school system shifted in the 1990s to voluntary measures to maintain racial balance Ñ chiefly by attracting white students to majorityblack schools by turning them into magnet schools. Then, at the end of the decade, white families successfully sued the school system, forcing it to dismantle the busing plan altogether. The result, combined with increasing percentages of AfricanAmerican and Hispanic students in the system, has been a growing concentration of minorities in many schools. Today, more than onethird of the county's 148 schools have at least 80 percent nonwhite enrollment. Civil rights advocates say Charlotte is one of many school systems where political and legal developments have contributed to a trend toward resegregation. ÒThe federal court required Charlotte to resegregate,Ó says Harvard's Orfield, Òand they are resegregating Ñ fast.Ó Critics of mandatory integration, however, say today's concentration of nonwhite students, particularly in urban school systems, largely reflects residential demographics. Nationwide, whites comprise only about 60 percent of students in public schools, compared to 80 percent in the late 1960s. In Charlotte today, 43 percent of the system's 114,000 students are black, and only 42 percent white.
Three high school students in Clinton, Tenn., peacefully register their feelings about their school becoming the first in Tennessee to integrate, on Aug. 27, 1956. Many other protests were violent. (AP
ÒIt's wrong to say that schools are segregated or becoming resegregated,Ó says Abigail Thernstrom, a former member of the Massachusetts Board of Education. ÒCities are becoming more heavily minority. ...ÒThe busing remedies didn't eliminate the effects of that discrimination; they neutralized them,Ó Shaw continues. ...ÒI like racially mixed schools better than racially homogeneous schools,Ó Abigail Thernstrom says. ÒBut I do not want computer printouts that say you have no choice as to where to send your kids.Ó
Do minorities suffer educationally because of racial isolation?
Black and Latino youngsters lag significantly behind whites (and Asian Americans) on every significant measure of academic achievement. The Òracial gapÓ in learning deeply troubles advocates and experts on both sides of the desegregation debate. Traditional civil rights advocates largely blame racial isolation for the lagging performance of blacks and Latinos. There is Òa very systematic relationÓ between segregation and the learning gap, Orfield says. ÒNo one has ever made separate schools equal in American history on any scale.Ó Some critics of mandatory integration, however, see no solid evidence that racially mixed classrooms significantly benefit learning. ÒThere is absolutely no reason to assume that because schools are heavily Hispanic or black that these children can't learn, that they have to sit next to whites or Asians in order to learn,Ó Abigail Thernstrom says. ...Orfield says ...that desegregation has a ÒhugeÓ effect on Òlife chances,Ó such as graduating from high school, going to college and Òbeing able to live in an interracial world as an adult.Ó ... ÒSo they have fewer resources.Ó U.S. schools traditionally have received most of their funding from property taxes, so schools in wealthier neighborhoods usually had more resources than schools in districts with lower property values. Armor and the Thernstroms instead blame the racial gap primarily on social and cultural factors. ÒThere are very strong correlations between singleparent households, low birthweight and performance in school,Ó says Abigail Thernstrom. Armor lists singleparent households as one of 10 Òrisk factorsÓ for
low academic achievement. Some of the others include poverty, limited education of parents, the size of the family and the age of the mother at pregnancy. ...Would Òschool choiceÓ policies help reduce the racial gap
in educational achievement for AfricanAmericans and Latinos?
President Bush touts school vouchers, not integration, as the best way to help disadvantaged students get a better education. ...Educational conservatives say Òschool choiceÓ programs such as vouchers or charter schools will help improve schools by promoting innovation and overcoming resistance to change from public school administrators and teachers. Education Secretary Paige claims particular support for school choice among AfricanAmerican families. ÒMy reading of the polls shows that AfricanAmerican parents support choice, vouchers, strongly,Ó Paige says. ÒThe parents are supporters because the parents want the best education for the child.Ó The public school establishment strongly opposes vouchers, saying they would drain needed money from public schools. ...ÒThere is no evidence that charter schools are better than average,Ó Orfield says, Òand our studies show that they're more segregated than public schools.Ó Abigail Thernstrom counters that vouchers and charter schools Òhave the potentialÓ to improve education for minority youngsters. ÒThey have the potential for one very simple reason,Ó she says. ÒThey are out from under the constraints that make for such mediocre education in so many public schools.Ó ... Armor says. ÒIt might or might not. There's nothing intrinsic about charters that says those teachers are going to have a better subject masteryÓ than teachers at regular schools. As for vouchers, Armor says they Òcan also be used to go to a school that doesn't have better programsÓ than regular public schools. Publiceducation groups cite underfunding as a major barrier to improving education for minority youngsters. Nationwide, schools with the highest minority or lowincome enrollments receive $1,000 less per student than schools with the lowest minority or poverty enrollments, according to a report by the Education Trust, a Washington advocacy group. ÒThere is definitely a relationship between the amount of funding a district gets
and academic performance,Ó says Kevin Carey, a senior policy analyst with the group. ÒThere are important issues besides money: organization, expectations for students, curricula, the way teachers are compensated. But money matters, too.Ó ÒWe need to pay attention to sending resources where resources are needed,Ó Underwood says, Òso students with high educational needs get the resources they need to learn, so you really aren't leaving any child behind.Ó But Paige and other educational conservatives discount the importance of funding. ÒI don't accept that the achievement gap is a function of funding issues,Ó Paige says. ÒIt is a factor, but it is not the factor. The more important factors are those factors embedded in the No Child Left Behind Act: accountability, flexibility and parental choice Ñ and teaching methods that work.Ó Orfield, however, says the No Child Left Behind Act has produced Òconfusion and frustrationÓ for local school districts with scant evidence of help for minority pupils. And the Legal Defense Fund's Shaw insists that school choice proposals could help only some minority students while leaving most of them behind. ÒMost AfricanAmerican students, like most students, are going to remain in public schools,Ó Shaw says. ÒThe promise of Brown isn't going to be realized by focusing on those few students who can escape from public schools. If we don't talk about fixing public education, then I think we betray not only Brown but also the fundamental notion of what public education is all about.Ó
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Long, Hard Road
The Supreme Court's celebrated decision in Brown v. Board of Education marks neither the beginning nor the end of the campaign for equal education for black Americans. It was only a turning point in a struggle with roots in the 19th century that now extends into the 21st. ...Current Situation
Schools in Lynn, Mass., were facing a multifaceted crisis in the 1980s, with crumbling buildings, tattered textbooks, widespread racial strife and rapid white
flight. To regain public confidence, the school board in 1989 adopted a plan combining neighborhoodschool assignments with a transfer policy that included only one major restriction: No child could transfer from one school to another if the move would increase racial imbalance at either of the schools involved. ...But Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity says schools should not assign students on the basis of race or ethnicity. ÒThe social benefits to achieving a predetermined racial or ethnic mix are very small compared to the social costs of institutionalized racial and ethnic discrimination,Ó he says.
...The Manhattan Institute's Abigail Thernstrom counters that the focus on racial mixing is beside the point. ÒTeach the kids instead of worrying about the racial composition of the school,Ó she says. ÒOtherwise, we're chasing demographic rainbows. Cities aren't going to get whiter. And they're not going to get more middleclass.Ó
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Fifty years after the Supreme Court declared the end of racial segregation, the four communities involved in the historic cases present mixed records on the degree of progress in bringing black and white children together in public schools. ... IS THIS A DIFFERENT ARTICLE?
Success AsianAmerican Style
Uncivilized, unclean and filthy beyond all conception . . . they know not the virtues of honesty, integrity or good faith,Ó fulminated Horace Greeley, the 19thcentury abolitionist and social reformer, describing Chinese immigrants. But the numbers today tell a different story. By any measure, AsianAmericans have been phenomenally successful academically. As a result, the concentration of Asian students in top American schools is wildly disproportionate to their ratio in the U.S. population. ...Most of those early AsianAmericans, mainly Chinese, lived in California, where school segregation developed quickly. By 1863, ÒNegroes, Mongolians and
IndiansÓ were prohibited from attending schools with white children. Statewide restrictions were soon amended so nonwhite children could attend public schools with whites where no separate schools existed; in areas with fewer Chinese immigrants, they often attended schools with whites. San Francisco responded by building a separate school for Chinese children in 1885. In 1906, Japanese and Koreans also were ordered to attend the socalled Oriental School in San Francisco, although the Japanese resisted, and by 1929 the vast majority of Japanese children attended integrated schools. The courts and legislature ended legal segregation in California schools in 1947. However, Chinese immigrants in California have staunchly opposed integration proposals that required their children to be bused out of local neighborhoods. ÒOne time, in the 1960s and '70s, when integration of schools was the big issue, I almost got lynched in Chinatown by ChineseAmericans for supporting integration,Ó said Lingchi Wang, a professor of ethnic studies at Berkeley and veteran civil rights advocate. More recently, ChineseAmerican parents successfully challenged a San Francisco schoolintegration plan, arguing that their children were losing out due to racial quotas at magnet schools. Today, regardless of their parents' income level or education, Asian students perform better academically than other groups, though their performance does improve as parental education and income increase. The persistent performance gap, even accounting for socioeconomic factors, leads to a third explanation for Asians' success: the great emphasis put on education by Asian parents, higher academic expectations and the attitude that successful achievement is simply a question of hard work. ...But evidence suggests that newly arrived Asians learn English faster than Latinos, thus breaking down those barriers faster. For instance, 1990 Census data showed that 90 to 95 percent of thirdgeneration AsianAmerican children spoke only English at home, compared to only 64 percent of MexicanAmericans. But Asian immigrants are not a monolithic Òmodel minority.Ó Asians who arrive already speaking English, such as Filipinos or Indians, fare better educationally and economically. The poverty rate among Filipino immigrants Ñ who come from a country with a 95 percent literacy rate Ñ is only 6.3 percent, compared with 37.8 percent among the Hmong Ñ a mostly uneducated ethnic group from Southeast
'We've Yet to Achieve' Equality of Education
Secretary of Education Rod Paige was interviewed on March 24, 2004, in his Washington office by Associate Editor Kenneth Jost. Here are verbatim excerpts from that interview.
On his experience attending racially segregated schools:
ÒThe fact that [white students] had a gym was a big deal. They played basketball on the inside. They had a big gym with lights and stuff on the inside. We played basketball on the outside with a clay court. We played up until the time that you couldn't see the hoop any more. . . . I wanted to take band, but there was no music. I wanted to play football, but there was no football team [until senior year]. . . . The concept of separate but equal is not at all academic for me. It is very personal. And even today . . . I don't know what I missed.Ó
On the impact of the Brown v. Board of Education decision:
ÒWas the goal to take 'separate but equal' away . . . ? The answer would be [yes], in a very strong and striking way. If the goal was equality education, to level the educational playing field for all children, especially children of color, the answer is we've yet to achieve that.Ó
On the resegregation of black and Latino students:
ÒEthnic communities cluster together because of a lot of different factors. Some of these factors include preferences; some are economic. So our goal should be now to provide a quality education for a child no matter where they are in this system.Ó
On efforts to promote racial balance in schools:
ÒIf anybody is in a segregated school based on unfairness, then, yes, they should work against that. But . . . we don't want to get integration confused with educational excellence. We want to provide educational excellence to kids no matter what their location is [or] the ethnic makeup of their community.Ó
Secretary of Education Rod Paige (U.S. Dept. of Education)
On the use of race in pupil assignments:
ÒA person should not be disadvantaged because of the color of their skin. Nor should that person be advantaged because of the color of their skin. . . . That's the principle I would apply to any set of circumstances.Ó
On ÒequalÓ opportunities for AfricanAmerican and Latino students:
ÒI've got to come down on the side that there's a large amount of lower expectations for minority kids. . . . If there are lower expectations for a child, then the answer to your question has to be that there is not a fair opportunity.Ó
On causes of the Òracial gapÓ in learning:
ÒThere are three drivers. One is the quality of instructional circumstances. . . . The second is the quantity of it . . . And the third one is student engagement. Learning is an active activity between the teacher and the student. So the student does have some responsibility here in terms of student engagement.Ó
On underfunding of minority and lowincome schools:
ÒI don't accept that the achievement gap is a function of funding issues. I think it is a factor, but it is not the factor. . . . The more important factors are those embedded in the No Child Left Behind Act: accountability, flexibility and parental choice Ñ and teaching methods that work.Ó
On school choice proposals Ñ vouchers and charter schools:
ÒMy reading of the polls show[s] that AfricanAmerican parents support choice, vouchers, strongly. . . . The parents are supporters because [they] want the best education for the child. . . . Enforcing monopolistic tendencies on schools is a detriment to schools. The people who force these monopolistic tendencies on schools deny schools the opportunity to innovate, create and reach their potential.Ó
Document Citation Jost, K. (2004, April 23). School desegregation. CQ Researcher, 14, 345372. Retrieved June 11, 2008, from CQ Researcher Online, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2004042300.
Document ID: cqresrre2004042300 Document URL: http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2004042300 The CQ Researcher ¥ April 23, 2004 ¥ Volume 14, Number 15 © 2008, CQ Press, A Division of SAGE Publications. All Rights Reserved. General Terms of Service | Copyright Notice and Takedown Policy | Masthead
Rethinking School Integration
Is the era of courtordered desegregation over?
October 18, 1996 ¥ Volume 6, Issue 39 By Kenneth Jost
More than four decades after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in public schools, most black and Latino youngsters still attend predominantly minority schools and the number is increasing. Federal courts are making it easier for school districts to drop mandatory desegregation plans and be released from judicial supervision. Some black leaders are questioning the value of integration and joining other critics of courtordered busing. Civil rights advocates say that the trend toward ÒresegregationÓ will hurt minorities' opportunities in school and afterward. But critics say that desegregation produces few educational gains for minorities, causes whites to flee innercity schools and weakens popular support for public education.
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...Some black leaders support school choice plans that provide public funds to
help parents pay for private or parochial schools as a way to increase integration. Armor agrees. ÒI like the choice movement, and I like plans that try to combine choice and desegregation,Ó he says. ÒOne of the best channels of integration in our society is to allow minority students to attend private schools of their choice.Ó
For his part, Orfield says school choice Òthreatens to foster resegregation by both race and class,Ó but also has Òpositive possibilities for crossdistrict desegregationÓ if minority families interested in schools outside their districts are given adequate information and support. But without Òstrong civil rights policies,Ó Orfield writes, Òchoice plans can pay to transfer white students from integrated city schools to allwhite suburbs.Ó In the meantime, the sharpest debate is between those who favor court intervention and supervision in school desegregation cases and those who want courts to reduce their role and restore local control of schools. ÒThe courts should recognize the practicality of the alternatives, that voluntary plans in the long term have been just as successful, or no more unsuccessful, than mandatory plans,Ó Armor says. But Parker says courts still have an essential role where school districts have failed to remove the effects of segregation. ÒThese cases were meant to address serious constitutional violations,Ó he says. ÒThe age of the case is less important than whether those constitutional violations have been successfully addressed. If the school district hasn't taken care of the problem, then it doesn't matter whether the case is five years old or 50 years old.Ó
... The segregated housing pattern is what's making it difficult. You've got a black
Charlotte and a white Charlotte, and that's what makes it difficult to desegregate the schools without busing.Ó
Should the courts reduce their role in school desegregation?
David J. Armor
Research Professor, George Mason University.. Written for The CQ Researcher, October 1996.
As arbiters of the U.S. Constitution, the federal courts will always have a proper role in the area of school desegregation. Whenever a school system is charged with racial discrimination in violation of the 14th Amendment, the courts must decide the issue of liability. July 9, 1996 Connecticut Supreme Court says racial segregation in Hartford's public schools is unconstitutional, regardless of cause. September 1996 Denver and Cleveland open school year with no courtordered busing. Ê Ê
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Hispanic Americans: The 'Other' Minority
Latinos are the most segregated minority in America's public schools. Moreover, the percentage of Latinos attending predominantly minority schools has been steadily increasing in the 30 years since the government began keeping such figures. ÒWe have very severe levels of school segregation,Ó says Charles Kamasaki, a vice president for the National Council of La Raza, an Hispanic lobbying group. ÒThe highest degree occurs in school districts and schools with the fewest resources. In our judgment, it undeniably has a negative effect on school achievement among Hispanic children.Ó Nearly threefourths of Latino students attend schools with at least 50 percent minority enrollment, according to Department of Education figures for the 199192 school year, the most recent available. ...For his part, Kamasaki says school segregation for African Americans and Hispanics alike stems from the same problem: housing segregation. ÒÓÒÓ Kamasaki also says that the Department of Education has an important role to play in monitoring local school districts to detect socalled Òwithinschool segregationÓ as when tracking practices result in isolating Hispanic or African American students. ÒMost people agree that this can be just as pernicious and just as harmful as other forms of segregation,Ó he says.
From Busing to Magnets to Money: A County's Struggle to Desegregate
Busing and magnet schools failed to desegregate Prince George's County, Md. Now the sprawling school district wants to try something else: money. School officials in the predominantly black suburban county outside Washington admit that the county's modest busing plan and its more ambitious magnet school program have failed to bring black and white students together. Now the school board wants a federal judge to allow a return to neighborhood schools. But not the old and substandard neighborhood schools. The board also wants the judge to order the state and county to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for new school construction and operating expenses to improve educational quality. ÒWe've gone as far as we're going to be able to go to reach numerical desegregation,Ó says Marcy Canavan, chairman of the school board. ÒSo we're trying to move to a new step: Allow kids to return to neighborhood schools, which is overwhelmingly popular among white and black students. ÒBut we're focused on not moving any kids until we're sure that they're going to good schools that will improve their educational opportunities and educational performance,Ó Canavan says. To do that, Canavan says the school board plans to seek a federal court order requiring Prince George's County and the state of Maryland to pay for $180 million in new school construction over the next six years. In addition, the board will be asking for about $30 million per year in additional operating expenses, mainly to reduce classroom size to between 20 and 25 students per class. Canavan says the new money is needed Òwith or without desegregationÓ because of the county's explosive growth. School enrollment has grown by 22,000 in the past 10 years, but only two new schools have been built. Currently, about 10,000 students are housed in modular or temporary classrooms instead of in regular school buildings. The school system is currently under federal court order in a desegregation suit filed in 1970. Prince George's was then what its current black county executive,
Wayne Curry, calls Òa sleepy Southern hollow.Ó The county was about three fourths white, and its school system rigidly segregated. Since then, the county, and its school system, have been racially transformed. The current school enrollment is about 72 percent AfricanAmerican, 19 percent white, 5 percent Hispanic and 4 percent AsianAmerican. To desegregate the schools, a federal judge in 1973 ordered a plan requiring busing of students between predominantly black neighborhoods near Washington and the predominantly white neighborhoods in outlying areas. But as the county's black population grew and whites continued to move toward outlying areas, school officials found it impossible to keep enrollment within the racial balance guidelines set by the court. A courtappointed panel of experts recommended a new plan in 1981 that called for even more extensive busing to offset the changing demographics, or what Canavan, who is white, today describes as ÒmassiveÓ busing. The proposal drew a firestorm of criticism and eventually was shelved in favor of a magnet school plan. The schools, featuring special curricula, were to be located in predominantly black neighborhoods with the hope of attracting white students to achieve a measure of racial balance. Since the program was instituted in 1985, the number of magnet schools has grown to 53, featuring some 16 specialized curricula and enrolling some 20,000 students. The programs have been popular, but Alvin Thornton, a former school board member now working as a consultant in developing the new desegregation plan, says the magnets were Òonly 50 percent successfulÓ in promoting racial balance. The magnets' popularity complicated their effects on racial mixing. For one thing, in response to pressure from whites, some of the programs were placed in white neighborhoods. In addition, there is a huge waiting list of blacks about 4,100 students as of last fall who cannot get into magnet schools because slots have been reserved for whites. Black parents complained about the difficulty of getting into programs that had been established in the first place to benefit black students. In addition, black parents were also complaining about busing. Although only about 12,000 students are subject to busing for racial balance, about 90 percent of those
affected are black. The two lines of criticism converged this summer to produce a majority on the predominantly black school board in favor of going to court to try to ease the quotas at magnet schools, end racial balance busing and win release from court supervision altogether. U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte agreed in August to ease the magnet school quotas, but he put other issues on hold pending a full scale reexamination of the status of desegregation in the county. In a public briefing last month, Canavan acknowledged that the board's plan to abandon busing would put more black students in Òschools that are now considered segregated.Ó But she said educational quality would be improved if the new construction and operating funds are approved. The plan calls for construction of 12 new schools, renovation of 22 existing schools and reopening of four closed schools. ÒThe board is unwilling to return kids to schools where they will not thrive,Ó Canavan told the Sept. 12 meeting. ÒIt is incumbent on us to be sure that these children's educational opportunities increase rather than decrease because of an end to busing.Ó Few of the people at the meeting most of them black had anything good to say about busing. ÒWhat I could never understand was busing,Ó one black woman said. ÒThey were busing black children to a black school.Ó On the minds of most parents at the meeting were the problems common to school systems around the country: discipline, teacher quality and educational improvement. ÒWhat I want,Ó one black father told the group, Òis to be able to say that you can go into any school in Prince George's County and be able to compete with any schoolÓ in the predominantly white adjoining counties. At the meeting, County Executive Curry pledged strong support for the board's plan despite the price tag. Curry endorsed the move to get out from under court supervision, but he added, ÒI relish the help of the courtÓ in ordering the state to help pay for the new plan. A spokesman for Gov. Parris Glendening, a Democrat and former Prince George's County executive, attended the session but was noncommittal, saying only that the governor was Òprepared to consider and approve a significant increase in construction funds.Ó For their parts, both Canavan and Thornton voiced optimism that the school
board could win a court order requiring funding of the plan. ÒWe would not have done this unless we thought we could win,Ó' Canavan says. ÒWe think that when the facts are examined, the court will come to the same conclusion that the board did: that we can't do any more to desegregate under the original definition.Ó
Document Citation Jost, K. (1996, October 18). Rethinking school integration. CQ Researcher, 6, 913936. Retrieved June 11, 2008, from CQ Researcher Online, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre1996101800. Document ID: cqresrre1996101800 Document URL: http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre1996101800 The CQ Researcher ¥ October 18, 1996 ¥ Volume 6, Number 39 © 2008, CQ Press, A Division of SAGE Publications. All Rights Reserved. General Terms of Service | Copyright Notice and Takedown Policy | Masthead
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Will they improve or hurt public education?
December 20, 2002 ¥ Volume 12, Issue 44 By Charles S. Clark
Fourthgrader Ashley Tropez volunteers to answer at Christel House Academy, one of four charter schools that opened this fall in Indianapolis, Ind. Since the first charter school opened 10 years ago in Minnesota, some 2,700 have been launched. (AP Photo/John Harrell)
A decade after the birth of the charter school movement, reform activists and mainstream educators disagree over whether these experimental public schools are a promising innovation or a damaging distraction. The nation's nearly 2,700 charter schools operate in 39 states, enjoying freedom from many traditional regulations. But they must deliver concrete results in a specified period or risk being shut down. Charters vary as much in their instructional approaches as they do in their genesis, facilities, quality and political constituencies. Yet, the evidence remains inconclusive as to whether they are boosting student achievement. The evolving movement remains divided between critics, who see it as the first step in dismembering America's public education system, and those who see it as the system's last best hope.
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Forget your preconceived notions of dilapidated innercity public schools. At the Capital City Public Charter School, occupying rented quarters above a CVS drugstore on onceinfamous 14th Street in Washington, D.C., the brick building is new, the school welllighted and clean. Every morning at 8, when the 180 preK through seventhgrade students step off the elevator, abuzz with enthusiasm, they are greeted by Principal Karen Dresden, the city's charter school Principal of the Year last year. Dresden's charges represent 17 Zip codes around the city and diverse racial groups. Four hundred children are on the school's waiting list. As a charter school, Capital City is a nonprofit, publicly funded experimental school governed by a board, mostly parent volunteers, including many of the school's founders. It is one of 2,696 charter schools established nationwide since
the first one opened its doors 10 years ago in St. Paul, Minn. Charter schools are given freedom from most regulations in return for a promise to meet performance goals or lose their charters, usually granted for fiveyear intervals. One of Capital City's founders is Anne Herr, a State Department analyst who heads the Board of Trustees. She says starting the school was a Òleap of faithÓ motivated only in part by some parents' dissatisfaction with the traditional public schools their children attended. ÒThe overall motivation was the excitement of starting something new,Ó Herr recalls, though she admits that they might never have started Òif we had known all the issues we were going to encounter.Ó
Field trips to Rock Creek Park and National Zoo are fundamental to the program at Capital City Public Charter School, in Washington, D.C. Nearly 680,000 preK12 students attend charter schools in 39 states and the District Ñ slightly more than 1 percent of the 47 million students in traditional public schools. Educators disagree over whether charters Ñ launched 10 years ago in Minnesota Ñ are a promising innovation or a damaging and costly distraction. (Capital City Public Charter School/Dave Philhower)
Capital City built its instructional regime around two increasingly popular programs: Outward Bound's fieldtripheavy Expeditionary Learning, and a pupil management approach called the Responsive Classroom, which emphasizes developing social skills and a positive attitude towards selves, school and others. ÒIt's a real opportunity for teachers to exercise leadership and build the school,Ó Dresden says, adding that their pay and benefits are comparable or better than those in traditional D.C. public schools, even though, she admits, Òthey do work a little harder.Ó All the teachers boast strong elementaryeducation experience, but were not required to jump through all the Òhoops and paperworkÓ of getting locally certified, she says. Tuition is free at Capital City, which receives public funds based on the normal studentweighted formula Ñ a perpupil amount, enhanced for specialeducation students and those with limited English. Unlike regular public schools, however, charters must find alternative facilities. Financing the lease on the current building Ñ and purchasing a larger one to move into next year Ñ required negotiating loans and revenue bonds from area banks, personally backed by a board member. ÒOur board has the ideal membership for a startup,Ó Dresden says. ÒThey have backgrounds in banking, facilities, grantwriting, law and architecture. You might think it would be good for
board members to know education, but we need their expertise in lots of areas that I'm not as strong in.Ó Across the country, nearly 680,000 preK12 students attend charter schools in 39 states and the District of Columbia Ñ slightly more than 1 percent of the 47 million students attending traditional public schools. Depending on each state's enabling law, charter schools can be authorized by local school districts, state governments or special chartering boards. Their sponsors include universities, socialservice agencies, YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs and, increasingly, private, forprofit corporations. Instructional themes range from agriculture to the Montessori method to online learning. Surveys show that families who choose charter schools want small, effective schools that are responsive to special needs, offer a structured environment and operate flexibly. Yet the charter school movement is bipartisan and philosophically broad. Educational liberals value charters for the freedom to experiment, while conservatives stress the freedom for families to move out of failing schools. (continued below) Some enthusiasts see charter schools as opportunities to create laboratories of innovation whose potential has yet to be tapped. ÒThis is a revolution in public education, like democracy was a revolution in how people are governed,Ó says Joe Nathan, director of the Center for School Change at the University of Minnesota. ÒWe're seeing far more sophistication in how charters are set up.Ó Ron Wolk, founder of Education Week, predicts that as charter schools become more popular, they will attract privateschool students back into the public system. Others see them as an alternative to the publicschool status quo. ÒThe current system rewards good teaching by promoting teachers out of the classroom, which promotes mediocrity,Ó says M.S. ÒMikeÓ Kayes, project director of the Phoenix based National Charter School Clearinghouse, a Department of Education funded group that supplies information on charter schools. ÒPublic education's failures are systemic and institutionalized, so it's not enough to find a new manager. You have to throw off the yoke of how teachers are hired and rewarded.Ó But critics point out that a disproportionate number of charter schools are set up
in ailing urban districts, making many lowincome families with atrisk children the guinea pigs for sketchily funded experimentation. Joan Devlin, associate director of educational issues at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), says even with some successes, charter schools are Òa distractionÓ from reforming mainstream public schools. ÒCharter schools can be good tools if they're carefully done,Ó Devlin says, noting they must be accountable and that their pupils must be required to perform well on the same achievement tests traditional schools are required to give. ÒAnd they must be open to all.Ó Unionized teachers claim that charter schools are a thinly veiled effort to eliminate teachers' unions. Most charter schools do not offer prevailing wages and hours, points out Deanna Duby, a senior policy analyst at the National Education Association (NEA). ÒThey're trying to get rid of union contracts,Ó she says. ÒThey're saying, 'Give us some money and leave us alone, and we'll take care of things.' ÒThe majority of our 2.7 million members would just as soon have charter schools go away,Ó Duby says. ÒThey're a sign that we're not doing our job, but many feel that the competition is not fair because if you took away all the regulations [mainstream teachers] work under, we could be creative like charters, too.Ó In fact, Devlin argues, the tendency of many charters to employ teachers Òat willÓ Ñ without tenure or longterm contracts Ñ is why teacher turnover at the schools is so high: about 6080 percent. ÒI'm not saying bureaucracy isn't burdensome, but it is not generally what impedes change and progress,Ó she adds. ÒIt's no longer true that unions prevent school principals from hiring who they want or firing incompetent teachers. You just have to show 'just cause' rather than being capricious.Ó Many administrators and teachers'union members worry that charter schools are difficult to govern, organize and regulate, like the Los Angeles charter school that reportedly bought its director a sports car. And authorities revoked the license of Gateway Academy Ñ a chain of California charter schools Ñ after it was discovered that some of its 14 schools were teaching Islam, charging parents
tuition and hiring convicted felons. The irregularities at Gateway were discovered when a reporter found students praying with their Muslim teachers at a school in Sunnyvale. Moreover, some studies of student achievement have shown that charterschool testscore gains have been minimal. ÒIf the schools are not effective, they should be curtailed or abandoned,Ó say two Western Michigan University professors. So far, the Capital City Public Charter School is passing with flying colors. Each year, auditors from the D.C. Public Charter School Board evaluate the school based on students' performance on the Stanford 9 and other standardized tests, as well as nonacademic measures like attendance and fulfillment of the school's management plan. During its first year, Capital City reported the highest reading scores of the district's 33 charter schools. Far less fortunate were the students, staff and parents of three other charter schools closed by the D.C. Board of Education last June. The World Public Charter School was cited for problems ranging from failing to provide individualized education plans for specialeducation students and not verifying students' residency to failing to conduct employee background and health checks or supply textbooks. Nonetheless, charter schools nationwide are on the upswing. President Bush's landmark No Child Left Behind Act proposes new funding and organizational help for charter schools. ÒThe Clinton administration supported charters as a policy option, but our approach is more entrepreneurial advocacy,Ó says Under Secretary of Education Eugene W. Hickok. ÒCharter schools are not just an important part of public education, they are an essential part.Ó As the charter school movement enters its second decade, here are some of the key issues being debated:
Are charter schools harming the traditional public school system?
In suburban Long Island, N.Y., a group of parents have formed the Coalition to Oppose Charter Schools in Glen Cove. ÒWe want to keep our community desirable,Ó said spokeswoman Gloria Wagner. ÒThe connotation of a charter school is, 'The [traditional public] schools are lousy and are not meeting the
needs of our children.' [If charter schools are allowed here], our property values will go down, our taxes will increase to keep the standards up.Ó In Worcester, Mass., Mark Brophy, president of the local teachers' union, blasted charter schools as Òa conspiracy to implode public educationÓ by siphoning away funds needed by traditional schools. In Indianapolis, officials this fall complained that when four new charter schools opened, the school district lost $1.5 million, mostly because the charters attracted many privateschool students. And a recent survey of 49 school districts with charter schools, commissioned by the U.S. Education Department, found that at least half of the districts reported negative budgetary impact. The financial impact on mainstream schools varies by state, says Paul Houston, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, in Arlington, Va. ÒIt depends on how closely tethered the charters are to district funds,Ó he says. ÒIn some states, the laws burden districts with oversight and monitoring responsibilities without providing new funds. And superintendents gripe that when charters go belly up, the districts have to sweep up the pieces of a problem they had no role in creating.Ó A school district's overhead costs are largely fixed, regardless of the number of students, until it reaches Òa certain breaking point,Ó Houston adds. So if charter schools reduce the number of children in the mainstream district from, say, 3,000 to 2,800, the district loses the funds for those 200 children who left Ñ but without reducing its overhead. Ò[Thus], you indirectly impact the kids left in the system, because you still have to maintain buildings and provide services.Ó But Ted Kolderie, a former journalist and Minnesota citizen activist who helped launch the charter movement, dismisses the siphonedfunds complaint. ÒYou have an established industry that sees change occurring, has trouble changing and tries to stop it,Ó he says. ÒThe complaints are selfinterested, though they're not couched that way.Ó Under the charter school concept, ÒThe money moves, and we finance kids,Ó Kolderie says. ÒThat requires districts to think. All of these assertions come when they think inside the box.Ó Under Secretary Hickok acknowledges Òmore than a scintilla of truthÓ to the problem of rigid overhead costs. ÒHaving said that, I remind my friends in school
systems that the issue is not funding or managing their systems, but educating children,Ó he says. ÒYes, you've got management challenges, but if families feel their children are not getting an education,Ó it is not the district's job to thwart them. Critics also complain that the charter movement risks resegregation and the ÒBalkanizationÓ of public education, tearing the fabric of communities in ways that have had negative consequences in other countries. For example, after New Zealand abolished its national education department in 1989, the subsequent formation of autonomous schools chosen by parents produced overcrowded, homogenized, resegregated schools that pick their students rather than vice versa, according to Edward B. Fiske, an education consultant, and Helen F. Ladd, a professor of public policy studies and economics at Duke University. Charter school proponents say that while the Balkanization charge is logical on the surface, it doesn't hold up to scrutiny. ÒNeighborhood schools based on housing patterns made sense years ago, but we're now in a crisis in the urban schools,Ó says Jeanne Allen, president of the procharter school Center for Education Reform, Òand if traditional schools are not serving students, then we must be willing to let them leave.Ó In fact, neighborhood schools have been losing appeal in some areas, including wealthy suburbs where students attend a variety of alternatives to the local public schools, ranging from religious institutions to collegeprep private schools. Chester E. Finn Jr., charter supporter and president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, says publicschool choice offers a Òdizzying proliferation of hybrid forms Ñ virtual schooling, home schooling in the morning with charter schooling in the afternoon, public schools outsourced to private firms.Ó Balkanization Òimplies that having a public school system is our foremost object of concern, but my concern is whether the public is being educated. That can be done in a wide variety of ways.Ó Indeed, charter proponents say fears that charter schools contribute to re segregation were not borne out in a recent Education Department survey. It showed that charter schools had 52 percent minorities, compared with 40 percent in traditional public schools, that both sectors had about 39 percent of students in the federal lunch program, and both had about 10 percent with limited English
proficiency. The traditional public schools, however, had slightly more special education students (about 11 percent vs. about 8 percent in charter schools). Many strong publiceducation advocates do not think charter schools threaten the public schools. ÒCharters exist because many people want to get out of the bureaucratic environment they're mired in, not because they want to avoid the principles and values of public education,Ó says Wendy Puriefoy, president of the Public Education Network (PEN), an association of community organizations known as local education funds (LEFs), dedicated to improving public schools.
Do charter schools foster innovation and achievement?
After 10 years of the charter school movement, evaluators must still rely largely on anecdotal evidence of innovations and shifting reports of rising or falling test scores Ñ the same complexities and lack of consensus that frustrate discussions of traditional schools. Skeptics argue that for all the lofty rhetoric about charters being laboratories of innovation that would inspire mainstream schools, mixed results have forced advocates to lower their sights. ÒThe claim was that the schools would be innovative and educators would roll it out on a larger scale,Ó says the NEA's Duby. ÒWe don't hear that now. Instead, you hear, 'Charters provide choice.' That's fine if the schools are innovative and offer something kids can't get in mainstream schools. But if it's just another choice, we're not supportive.Ó Proponents like Under Secretary Hickok point out that charters were the first to bring in dress codes and instructional programs that weave art and music into the teaching of reading and math. Charters pioneered longer school days and school years and have spotlighted Òniche curriculums,Ó such as Core Knowledge and Open Court/Direct Instruction, recently adopted in the Sacramento, Calif., public schools, says the Center for Education Reform's Allen. ÒThe point is not to take one innovation Ñ because the whole charter approach is innovation Ñ but to start with the premise of what can be done differently.Ó Education scholar Paul Teske found that charter schools deliver innovations more than twice as fast as traditional schools. Among their many innovations: before andafterschool programs, extra tutoring, hightechnology in classes, teacher development, teacher participation in policymaking, preK programs, parental
contracts and giftedandtalented programs. In the Education Department's recent 49district survey, half of the school leaders with charter schools in their districts reported becoming more customeroriented, increasing their marketing efforts, tracking students who leave and improving communication with parents. Most districts implemented new programs, or even created new schools with programs like those of the charters. One superintendent reported that after a second charter school opened in his district, he lost $1 million in state aid. ÒIt's spreading an alreadythin budget even thinner,Ó he told researchers, adding that if another charter school opened in his district, he might have to close a school. The superintendent said he felt competition from the charter schools, even though only 1.3 percent of the district's students had switched to them. He also acknowledged, however, ÒWe're better because of charters. I hate to say it, but we're more aware of the importance of what parents say and have become more customerservice oriented. We're willing to fix anything that parents leave for, like scheduling or busing. The charter schools stole our students; we will steal them back.Ó As a result of competition from the charter schools, the superintendent implemented several new educational programs, remodeled school buildings, included parents in the hiring process for new principals, encouraged team teaching and directed elementary schools to divide themselves into smaller units, or Òfamilies,Ó to increase the sense of community. In addition, he announced that he expected district students to outperform charter school students on future achievement tests and created a new accountability system for district personnel to reinforce that objective. ÒThere are specialized charter high schools, such as schools for the arts, particularly in urban areas where they're working at reforms,Ó PEN's Puriefoy says. ÒUrban schools in the standardsbasedreform era are like emergency rooms are to medicine. They don't work under antiseptic conditions, and they have people coming in off the streets, but you have the same basic issues of medicine. Urban schools are the real laboratories of learning for public education as a whole.Ó ÒIn most transitions, the early years are shaky,Ó activist Kolderie says. People
complained because Òthe early automobile was slower than the train, or because the first telephone had a range of only two miles. We never before had a system of autonomous schools. And even when charter schools are using proven learning models, they're still new, in that the organizations created are singleunit operations.Ó As for student achievement in charter schools, conclusions are complicated because there are no uniform tests or yeartoyear data. In the late 1990s, the Phoenixbased Goldwater Institute, a freemarket think tank, studied reading scores at Arizona charter and mainstream schools. ÒStudents enrolled in charter schools for two and three consecutive years have an advantage over students staying in [traditional schools] for the same periods of time,Ó the institute said. But more recent studies are less glowing. In a review released in September by the Brookings Institution's Brown Center on Education Policy, charter school students in four of the 10 states studied scored significantly below those from similar public schools. The study relied on 19992001 data from students in grades 4, 8 and 10 in 376 charter schools. Contrary to expectations, students in the urban charter schools scored higher than those in suburban or rural charter schools, and those from larger schools did better than those from small schools. Similar findings are reflected in an AFT report released in July. It found negative testscore growth in charter schools in six states Ñ North Carolina, Texas, Michigan, Louisiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania Ñ and mixed results elsewhere. Positive results were found only in New Jersey and Connecticut. The AFT evaluators also concluded that charter teachers feel less empowered to make changes in their workplaces than those in traditional buildings and hold mixed feelings about administrators and governance structures. They said charters encourage innovation but are less effective at changing instruction; that charters help isolate students by race and class; are not accountable financially and neglect specialneeds students. The proliferation of charter schools in Michigan prompted studies by Western Michigan University's Center for Evaluation. ÒSome districts may be encouraged to improve, but others are launched on a terminal cycle of decline,Ó wrote researchers Michael Mintrom and David N. Plank. ÒWhen assessing students' standardizedtest scores, no evidence suggests that charter schools are doing
better than their traditional counterparts in the same districts.Ó The North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research and scholars writing for the National School Boards Association both gave thumbsdown reviews of charters. Not surprisingly, charter advocates question the methodology of some of these studies, calling them biased. ÒCharter schools are all different,Ó says the Center for Education Reform's Allen. ÒYou have to look at how often the state tests, when the schools opened and whom they serve. ÒIf you look at individual students' scores, not masked by averages, performance is better at 80 percent of the schools,Ó Allen continues. ÒWith oversight boards and audit groups dropping by more frequently than with traditional schools, charter schools are the most scrutinized movement since desegregation. Yet you find a very optimistic picture, succeeding against all odds.Ó She points out that more than 50 years of longitudinal trends show that Philadelphia's public schools are failing. ÒWe know more about traditional schools,Ó she notes. ÒCharters know they are under the gun, but tests are expensive. Many of the schools are serving nontraditional, specialed, atrisk kids, so they struggle to demonstrate progress. But most are, in fact, doing well by any other measures.Ó For instance, Allen says, charter school mobility rates are stable (charter kids tend to stay put), highschool graduation rates are at 9599 percent and 63 percent have waiting lists. Surveys show rates of student, teacher and parental satisfaction in charter schools triple those of traditional public schools. Finn and his colleagues say parents rate charter schools better on class size, individual attention, school size, teaching quality, parent involvement, curriculum, extra help, enforcing standards, accessibility, discipline, basic skills and safety. Traditional schools rated the same or better only on facilities. ÒWe have a whole menagerie of charter schools,Ó the Fordham Foundation's Finn says. ÒMany are fabulous, but there are too many bad and mediocre ones. Some get better, others don't.Ó The University of Minnesota's Nathan, who notes Minnesota has many prized and influential charter schools, says, ÒThe generic thing called 'charter school' is like the word 'business.' Some are effective, some are not. Some shouldn't have been
approved. ÒBut the key is whether the ineffective ones are closed,Ó he continues. ÒA lot more charter schools have closed than district schools. More close for business reasons than academic ones, and the ones that do poorly in business also do poorly academically.Ó Kayes of the National Charter School Clearinghouse argues that the low socioeconomic status of many charterschool students makes it imperative that charters be examined with Òmoresophisticated valueaddedÓ assessments. ÒIf you're getting highschool kids who come in reading at the sixthgrade level, and if, at the end of one year, they're at the seventh or eighthgrade level, that's phenomenal,Ó he says. Parents who choose charter schools for their children tend to be more involved with their kids' educations, Kayes says, and charters tend to be twothirds to threefourths smaller than traditional schools. ÒBut improving student performance is absolutely what's needed. If these schools only do as well as their traditional counterparts, then why bother?Ó
Should private companies be allowed to run charter schools?
In Florida, threefourths of all new charter school seats are being created by private corporations. Companies like ChancellorBeacon Academies, based in Coconut Grove, work with developers to build new facilities with small classes. By contracting with counties to receive $2,000 less per student than a traditional school district, they pay teachers less than traditional schools, but they offer them stock options, and, in theory, save taxpayers money. According to the Center for Education Reform, 19 such companies or their nonprofit subsidiaries Ñ called Òeducational management organizationsÓ (EMOs) Ñ are operating some 350 schools around the nation, many of them charters. They include nationwide companies like Edison Schools and National Heritage Academies. In Ohio, White Hat Ventures LLC, founded by a millionaire industrialist and privatevoucher advocate, runs a sixth of the state's 91 charter schools. In New York state, companies run half the charter schools, and in Michigan, twothirds. To some publicschool purists, such publicprivate partnerships represent a disturbing trend. ÒIt's based on deception,Ó says the NEA's Duby. ÒThe law
says a public school can't be forprofit, so they set up a nonprofit foundation. The big corporate guys believe there is money to be made, so some are diving in to take over the charter movement. It will be interesting to see how many momand pop charters will survive and to what degree the movement will become for profit.Ó Critics also scoff at the notion that a ÒcookiecutterÓ design from a large corporation can meet the individual needs of kids and families in diverse neighborhoods. ÒEducation is hard,Ó Duby says. ÒLearning occurs through day today interaction. Corporations can't come in and say, 'We've got magic.' Which kids? Which environment? On what day? Too often they make decisions based on a test score here, a number there. But it's more complex than you think.Ó Paul Hill, a University of Washington professor and longtime researcher on public schools, warns that schools may not develop a strong sense of Òinternal accountabilityÓ if they do not control such crucial items as their own budget and curriculum. Authorizers who have a positive opinion of an EMO Òmay be less likely to look critically at each school affiliated with that EMO during both the application and oversight processes.Ó The companies deny any deception. ÒWe're not in the business of dummy organizations,Ó says Vickie FrazierWilliams, vice president of community and board relations for ChancellorBeacon Academies. ÒEvery state law is different. Some allow a forprofit to own, run and operate a public school; others require a nonprofit. It's difficult to keep up with changes. But friendly school boards look to us, research us and invite us in.Ó As for actually earning a profit, FrazierWilliams points out that her company receives a fixed 1012 percent of a district's payments, so proceeds from any efficiencies are channeled back into the schools. ÒThe profit comes from growing in many different places,Ó she says. ÒCharters are the toughest model because the parents vote with their feet. We have to please them.Ó She also dismisses the common charge that companies try to create cookie cutter, or ÒMcCharterÓ schools. ÒMaybe that happens in the early days, but every child, school and community is different, and each principal sets a different tone,Ó FrazierWilliams says. ChancellorBeacon partners with land developers to build new schools in overcrowded districts. The school boards consist of parents
who all live in the same development, as opposed to traditional school boards, which usually are elected from all parts of a school district. Marc Egan, director of the Voucher Strategy Center at the Alexandria, Va.based National School Boards Association, says a local school board Ñ which normally is elected Ñ should be the agency that grants charters. A publicly accountable board must decide whether a school meets the public's needs Ñ not a university or a nonprofit that may be a dummy front, he says. ÒWhat is their motivation? To please some financiers 2,000 miles away?Ó Egan asks. ÒYou can't eliminate public accountability from how the taxpayer education dollar is being spent.Ó Under Secretary Hickok disagrees. ÒSchool boards, as originally structured, are democratic. But what could be more democratic than parents voting with their feet?Ó Finn points out that, technically, under most state constitutions, state governments are charged with educating children Ñ not just local school boards. ÒSchools we have now are gypping so many kids and have no prospect of turning around,Ó Finn says. ÒIt's unjust to say we must keep these kids trapped in schools that are not doing what they say they are.Ó Finn also calls the fear of profittaking a Òred herring.Ó Regular schools contract with private companies to provide lunch and bus services, computers, textbooks, building maintenance and tutoring, he points out. ÒSo a nontrivial part of the budget flows into the coffers of forprofits,Ó he says. ÒDoes that make [those companies] a front? People who don't like choice or charters are trying to get people agitated into thinking EMOs are evil.Ó Allen also defends the companies. ÒAnyone who wants to make a quick buck doesn't go into education,Ó she says. ÒAnd there is a philanthropic edge to even the most forprofit companies, though there are exceptions. The key is what the company is doing for kids. You can't fire the MiamiDade County teachers' union, but you can fire Edison.Ó Houston, of the school administrators' group, says he is Òmore openÓ to giving EMOs a shot than are many of his colleagues. ÒSome do a better job than critics say, but they're not the ultimate solution. They're not a cash cow, and some of them may exclude highcost, specialeducation kids.Ó
In October, the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, released a report saying there is no evidence to prove or disprove EMOs' claims of raising student achievement, because none of the data provided had scientific rigor. Rep. Chaka Fattah, DPa., who requested the study, warned Congress to Òbe leeryÓ of private education companies.
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Born on a Napkin
The roots of the charter school movement date to the early 1970s, when the ÒhippieÓ movement was trickling down to the highschool level. Reformers in St. Paul, Scarsdale, N.Y., Philadelphia and Arlington, Va., began setting up experimental Òfree schoolsÓ within public schools. Later, as the national pendulum swung toward a Òback to basicsÓ educational approach, the Reagan administration in 1983 released its landmark ÒA Nation at RiskÓ report, warning of a rising tide of ÒmediocrityÓ in America's public schools. Though educators of all leanings took the harsh report seriously, many felt it was an effort to pave the way for a Òschool choiceÓ movement that might include taxpayersupported privateschool vouchers. By the late '80s, California had considered legislation that would have required school districts to offer alternative programs if at least 20 parents expressed an interest. Minnesota, at the behest of thenGov. Rudy Perpich, enacted two laws that permitted publicschool transfers across district lines. And Philadelphia began experimenting with ÒcharteringÓ new educational structures within districts. Meanwhile, overseas, the British Parliament enacted the 1988 Education Reform Act, which allowed schools to opt out of their local district to join a national network. But many say the official birth of American charter schools occurred at a 1988 Minneapolis Foundation education conference, where the charterschool concept was scribbled on a napkin by a group of five education and civic leaders: then AFT President Albert Shanker; Sy Fiegel, a veteran of the East Harlem school choice plan; Barbara Zohn, president of the Minnesota Parent Teacher Student Association; Elaine Salinas, the Twin Cities education program officer for the
Urban Coalition; Kolderie, of the Citizens League in Minneapolis; Ember Reichgott, a Democratic state senator from Minneapolis; and the University of Minnesota's Nathan. The advocates, Nathan says, shared a worldview as ambitious as that of early women'ssuffrage activist Susan B. Anthony. Shanker dubbed the schools as ÒcharterÓ institutions, borrowing the name from a book by New England educator Ray Budde, who drew on the idea of Renaissance kings giving charters to explorers to find new worlds. Former Education Secretary Lamar Alexander, thenchairman of the National Governors' Association, first proposed allowing charter schools to trade exemptions from regulations for improved results.
States Climb Aboard
Minnesota passed the nation's first charter school law in 1991. Initially, it was opposed by Gov. Arne Carlson and the Minnesota teachers' unions, whose members called the idea Òinsulting.Ó The NEA told Congress it was Òunalterably opposedÓ to charters; later it would launch its own charter schools. The Minnesota program began modestly by authorizing eight charter schools, but a year later only one Ñ the City Academy in St. Paul Ñ had opened its doors. In 1992, California became the second state to authorize charter schools. Republican Gov. Pete Wilson signed charterschool legislation after a competing voucher initiative was defeated at the ballot box. Five more states followed suit in 1993, and in 1994 Arizona enacted one of the country's most activist, freemarket oriented charterschool laws. Arizona's campaign was led by thenstate legislator Lisa Graham Keegan, who later became the state's superintendent of education. The same year, Congress authorized experiments with charter schools when it reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The charter school movement has now spread to 39 states and the District of Columbia, stressing all or parts of four basic theories, according to University of Washington researcher Hill. Some states, like Georgia, pursued innovation/experimentation strategies. Others Ñ California and Colorado Ñ pursued a more traditional, standardsbased reform approach. Michigan and Massachusetts adopted a Ònew supply of schoolsÓ strategy, emphasizing broadening the array of operators. The state with the most charter schools,
Arizona, used a Òcompetition/market strategy,Ó which gives parents the widest choices possible. Charter bills were more likely to pass in Republicancontrolled states, according to researcher Bryan C. Hassel. In Georgia and Colorado, the governors wanted to keep school boards in charge of charter schools, while governors in Massachusetts and Michigan saw them as a way to bypass the school boards and teachers' unions. In some states, strange political bedfellows pushed the legislation through. The charter school bill in New York, for example, was stalled due to opposition from teachers' unions and the state education commissioner. To get the law enacted during a December 1998 lameduck session, Republican Gov. George Pataki formed an alliance with black leaders from the Urban League, the Rev. Floyd Flake (a former Democratic congressman), Edison Schools and some business leaders. Most charter schools are in urban areas, Òwhere it's easier to make the argument that you need to do this,Ó says the AFT's Devlin. There is less pressure for such schools in wealthy suburbs, she says, where the public schools are performing relatively well. Some charter laws included specific provisions designed to prevent racial resegregation. However, charter schools are popular in the suburbs in Colorado, New Jersey and Connecticut, Òwhere proponents have overcome fear of 'unwanted competition' among mainstream educators,Ó one researcher says. The resulting mosaic of charter schools and related laws is notable for its variations. Minnesota's charter schools, for example, have 43 different sponsoring organizations. In California, 75 percent of charter schools require contracts for parental involvement. And in Indianapolis, the mayor has most of the authority to authorize new charters. Union opposition, for the most part, has evolved from efforts to block legislation to proposals for charter reforms, such as requirements that the schools hire certified teachers, allow collective bargaining, obtain school board approval, ban contracts with forprofit companies and impose uniform student testing. But Wolk, of Education Week, says unions seeking to reform charters must not remain enamored with Òa bureaucracy that can't tolerate deviation or
inconsistency.Ó ÒThe Boston teachers' contract alone is sixinches deep with rules that have accreted over the years,Ó he says. ÒIt's OK to have regulations to ban racial and ethnic discrimination, but most of the regulations are just more paperwork.Ó
The biggest challenge facing budding charter schools has been the shortage of facilities. In Massachusetts, five of the 14 schools set to open in 1994 still had no buildings lined up, five months before the school year was to start. One charter school temporarily used a motel; recess was held in the parking lot. Charter schools have found homes in office buildings, warehouses, old parochial schools, strip malls and storefronts, says Jon Schroeder, director of the St. Paul based National Charter Friends Network. Even so, he points out, they must abide by local building codes, since health and safety regulations cannot be waived. Some states provide Òtransition impact aidÓ to help charter founders locate appropriate facilities, while other states offer unused public school buildings. The federal government now supplies some funds for charter facilities. A variety of organizations have sprung up around the country dedicated to helping charter schools secure buildings and other necessities. ÒWe sponsor job fairs for recruiting teachers and help bring in experts on internal systems,Ó says Shirley Monastra, executive director of the District of Columbia Public Charter School Resource Center. The group also meets informally with representatives of other resource centers in several states. Plus, California State University has launched a Charter School Development Center, while the Walton Family Foundation circulates accountability methods in several states. Outsourcing is a common practice. According to the Education Department, 54 percent of charter schools obtain legal services from a nondistrict provider, 59 percent do so for insurance, 46 percent for payroll and 42 percent for social services. Funding levels for charter schools differ by state, and some argue that they are underfunded. In Washington, D.C., the perpupil funding rate is 100 percent, which means that charter schools receive 100 percent of what traditional schools receive. But New Jersey charter schools only receive 90 percent of that, Monastra says.
A recent survey by the Center for Education Reform found that the average per pupil cost in charter schools is $4,507 Ñ significantly less than the $7,000 average in traditional public schools. However, a study of charter school funding conducted by the AFT found that in some cities, like Boston, charters were actually receiving $1,800$2,000 more than mainstream schools, Devlin says. She notes that there are more elementarylevel charter schools than high schools because high schools have many higher fixed expenses, such as biology labs. But the University of Minnesota's Nathan insists the AFT is wrong. ÒThere is substantially less money in virtually every charter school,Ó he says. And, many states and cities provide a financial cushion to shield districts from the impact of perpupil funds lost to charter schools. ÒThe unions want to keep the competition starving,Ó the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation's Finn says. ÒThe public systems are abysmally awful at handling contraction. If they lose 25 kids, they should get rid of a teacher or close a classroom or building instead of insisting that costs are rising.Ó Some union locals have challenged the constitutionality of charter schools in court, but such lawsuits have been rejected in California, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota and New Jersey, according to Schroeder of the National Charter Friends Network. A suit by the Ohio Federation of Teachers challenging the diversion of public funds to charter schools is still pending. In California, the affluent Sequoia Union District sued the state to avoid paying $1 million for facilities required by a statesponsored local charter school because the district never approved the school. A judge ruled in late August that Sequoia must provide the facilities. ÒCharter schools are facing challenges and need capital,Ó says Puriefoy of the Public Education Network. ÒIt's as if General Motors announced a new line of cars but would not provide new capital.Ó Funding charter schools, says the NEA's Duby, should not mean that teachers give up their pension plans. ÒYes, the schools are freed from the bureaucracy of the central office, but many are also freed of [the requirement that they provide] support services, such as buses, food and special education. They find themselves spread thin, and many may be more in need of union support.Ó
Being free and experimental, most charter schools have foregone the traditional accreditation process, designed to assure officials and the public that a given school meets basic standards in its instructional program and physical plant. Some charters, to reassure parents that their children's charterschool credits will be transferable, apply for accreditation with one of the Education Department's six approved regional accrediting bodies. In the early years, the absence of standardized testing was a major obstacle to accreditation, but the Center for Education Reform reports that 98 percent of charter schools now require at least one standardized test. Many charter school operators feel they need their own accreditation methods, if only to weed out failing schools to avoid tarring the entire movement. Kayes, of the National Charter School Clearinghouse, says some schools are accredited by the Arizonabased Association for PerformanceBased Accreditation, while others are working with the WashingtonD.C.based American Academy for Liberal Education. But some regional bodies exclude charters without certified teachers, which Kayes calls Òunreasonable.Ó This fall, California offered a new accreditation program using team visits, conducted jointly over two years by the California Network of Educational Charters and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The program was implemented as Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was imposing new regulations on charter schools after revelations about abuses at some schools, and central district officials complained they lacked the resources to properly monitor charter schools. Similar complaints last winter about the burden of quality control prompted the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and 100 school districts in the Keystone State to sue a group of ÒvirtualÓ charter schools that had enrolled some 5,100 K 12 students in an online learning program. The suit claimed the schools drain funds from the public schools and were not sufficiently accountable. However, some observers fear that the accreditation trend Ñ as well as new demands of the No Child Left Behind Act and the academicstandards movement Ñ could force conformity and standardization on charter schools, says Minnesota activist Kolderie. ÒSome of the most interesting charter schools have no courses
and no employees; they break convention,Ó he says. Others are concerned about the tendency of some charter schools to engage in religious or quasireligious instruction. In San Bernardino County, Calif., a charter school was recently disciplined for teaching Christianity. And a charter school in Yuba River, Calif., which features the philosophical Waldorf teaching method, was hit with a lawsuit in 2001 accusing it of practicing religion. The religion question is a difficult one, says the Fordham Foundation's Finn. ÒWe want to teach character Ñ meaning values, ethics and morals Ñ but not religion,Ó he says. ÒSome educational programs look to some like religion Ñ they light candles and have rites and rituals. But it's not God or theologically based prayers. ÒThere's plenty of goofy stuff at charters, even at the progressive schools that practice constructivist nonsense that might work well for some but works badly for others, particularly the disadvantaged.Ó
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The Bush administration has requested an alltime high of $300 million for charter schools for fiscal 2003. In June, Education Secretary Rod Paige presided over a charter school conference in Milwaukee that drew record attendance and energized the movement with plans to form new, national, charter school alliances, according to Under Secretary Hickok. Charter advocates, for the most part, are pleased by the boost charter schools received in the No Child Left Behind Act. The law's requirement that all students demonstrate Òadequate yearly progressÓ in proficiencies toward state standards in core subjects may actually be easier for charter schools, says an analysis by the Center for Education Reform, because they have experience with contracts. But unlike the traditional public schools, notes Schroeder of the National Charter Friends Network, new accountability requirements will be overseen by the schools' authorizers and sponsors, rather than by the school districts. ÒTime will tell how that will work, and to what extent the existing accountability plans for charters will be incorporated into the overall state plans.Ó Kayes of the National Charter School Clearinghouse notes that when the time
comes for failed schools to be identified under the No Child Left Behind Act, one option would be to turn them into neighborhood charter schools.
The November elections, in which Republicans routed Democrats in many parts of the country, were seen as a boon to the schoolchoice movement in general. Among the winners, 52 percent favor school choice and only 35 percent oppose it, says the Center for Education Reform. Moreover, Republican gains in Congress and in the Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin legislatures were seen as a plus for the related schoolvoucher movement. Vouchers are considered more radical than charters, in that many voucher proposals permit public funds to be used for education at private schools, including parochial institutions. Republicans are more inclined toward vouchers than Democrats, even though support for charter schools is evident in both parties. ÒThe parties differ in motivation,Ó the AFT's Devlin says. ÒSome advocates on the right view charter schools as the camel's nose under the tent for vouchers. Liberal Democrats see them as the moat protecting public schools from vouchers.Ó Under Secretary Hickok argues that critics create a Òfalse dichotomyÓ between vouchers and charter schools. ÒThe American public needs to have choice in the broadest sense, and we hope vouchers are part of it,Ó he says. With vouchers, public funds can be used for tuition at religious schools, as the Supreme Court ruled in a Òstraightforward decisionÓ last June, Hickock adds, as long as the purpose of the program is secular education. ÒThis administration has its faithbased initiative in play here. So if a school has a secular instructional purpose, that doesn't mean religious people can't be providers.Ó Allen of the Center for Education Reform sees a variety of education reforms moving on parallel tracks, all responding to different deficiencies of public education. ÒThe voucher is the more direct, immediate service,Ó she says. ÒMost in education reform say the system for too long was impervious to change and has failed to educate most kids to the levels we need it to. So there's a significant need for choice, but there's no onesizefitsall approach.Ó But the Public Education Network's Puriefoy argues that the goal of charters is to give parents and communities Òa point of entryÓ into improving the public
education system. Education Week's Wolk doesn't agree that charters are Òa stalking horse for vouchers.Ó Instead, he feels they are Òthe best defense against vouchers.Ó Like the early civil rights movement, there is plenty of vigorous disagreement within the schoolchoice movement, the University of Minnesota's Nathan says. [Former Supreme Court Justice] ÒThurgood Marshall didn't agree all the time with Martin Luther King Jr.,Ó he says. ÒIn any major movement, there are major disagreements. ÒI don't think vouchers are a good idea,Ó he continues. Just as there are limits on freedom of speech, so there must be limits on school choice. Schools must be open to all kinds of kids, and voucher advocates want to be sectarian and pick and choose kids.Ó
Steps Forward and Back
Charter schools in the nation's largest school district got a boost this October when newly installed New York City public schools Chancellor Joel Klein announced plans to create additional charter schools. He vowed create a Òmore welcome environmentÓ for the experimental schools, of which there are currently only 18. The students who go to charter schools only receive twothirds of the amount traditional school students receive. In November in Los Angeles, the secondlargest system, a newly reconfigured group of school reform activists and academics announced plans to set up 100 charter schools. Members of the Los Angeles Alliance for Student Achievement want to form a ÒshadowÓ public school system, run by a nonprofit corporation, to create a more collegebound school culture. But in Boston, the Massachusetts Department of Education canceled plans to open six additional charter schools next fall, saying that 11 charter schools in the city is enough, given current budget constraints. Ohio, Texas and California also have introduced new curbs on charters.
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Just a Fad?
No one said the road to a nation of charter schools would be smooth. In Douglas
County, Colo., the oldest charter school went through five principals in eight years. Nearly 7 percent of new charter schools fail, according to a recent Center for Education Reform survey Ñ fewer than the 11 percent of public schools the center claims are failing. ÒYes, the closings are wasteful,Ó Kayes of the Charter School Clearinghouse acknowledges, Òbut what plan do the mainstream schools have for improving?Ó Researcher Hassel says the implementation problems and Òpolitical compromisesÓ that some charter advocates have been forced to accept Òhave severely hampered the ability of charter school programs to live up to their promise.Ó For example, 14 states rewrote their charter laws between 1997 and 1998. The Fordham Foundation's Finn predicts more charter schools will be established in the coming decade, and more data will be available for evaluating them. But the foundation is shifting its focus from the quantity of charter schools to the quality. Under Secretary Hickok is concerned about losing the movement's Òentrepreneurial spiritÓ to the institutionalization of charter schools. ÒIt could get cooptedÓ by bureaucracy, he says. But he is confident the Education Department will help charter schools reach out to disengaged parents and communities. ÒWe can create interest on the part of parents a generation or two removed, for whom there is the possibility of a different kind of community,Ó he says. Charter schools have a Òmixed track recordÓ that in many ways is a distraction for public education, says Houston of the school administrators' association. ÒThey are neither a huge threat nor a landmark innovation,Ó he says. ÒBut if the laws are structured right, administrators should be able to use them for reforms, to leverage and embrace an array of options for improvement.Ó The movement is Òhere to stay, at least in the short term, so we will participate,Ó says the NEA's Duby. ÒThe vista looks promising in terms of the viability of charter school policy innovation,Ó writes Sandra Vergari, an assistant professor of educational administration and policy studies at the State University of New York at Albany. ÒSymbolically, politically and substantively, the reform appears to hold more long
term significance than the typical fad in educational policy and administration.Ó But she also asks whether charters might meet individual interests, while not necessarily meeting collective interests. Indeed, as Kayes points out, there is a proposal in Arizona to create a samesex charter school for grades 48. ÒWe wouldn't say it would be best for all communities or parents, but it would be an alternative,Ó he says. Puriefoy of the Public Education Network believes charter schools will help create a more varied public education system that uniformly imposes higher expectations, helps students meet standards and gives them choices. There should be Òfair and multiple assessmentsÓ for both students and adults, she adds, but they will be administered differently in different areas of the country. ÒWe're headed toward significant progressÓ she says, Òbut when charter schools reach a certain scale, they too will encounter what feels like bureaucratic roadblocks.Ó Movement cofounder Kolderie stresses the longterm view. Nearly 20 years after the warnings in ÒA Nation at Risk,Ó he says, ÒNo one thinks reform has been done, and there's not a lot of reasons to believe it will be done, even with the big hammer of accountabilityÓ in the No Child Left Behind Act. ÒWe're still in the process of creating the schools we need now,Ó Kolderie says. ÒTo rely exclusively on changing the schools we've long had will not work, and it is an unacceptable risk to take with other people's children.Ó The AFT's Devlin is more wary. ÒCharters vary in quality, have little impact on the body of knowledge of what children should learn and will have little impact on how 21stcentury schools should be organized,Ó she says. ÒBut they're not necessarily a bad idea, and we don't see them going away. Their founders are discovering what we've always known Ñ that running a good school is really hard work.Ó
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Do charter schools help public education?
President, Center for Education Reform. Written for the CQ Researcher,
December 2002 Since their inception, charter schools have been committing to opening their doors to children who would not normally have a chance. Success for charters means success for all of education. Researchers who have studied the effect of charters on public education found: ¥ In California, charter schools are more effective than traditional public schools at improving academic achievement for lowincome and atrisk students; in Chicago, charter schools performed better on 80 percent of student performance measures; in Arizona, a statewide study of 60,000 youngsters found charter pupils outperforming traditional public school students. ¥ Higher proportions of disadvantaged and specialneeds students attend charter schools Ñ the antithesis of Òskimming the creamÓ from the public schools, as critics allege. Charters enrolled a larger percentage of students of color than all public schools in the charter states. In 199899, the most recent year for which data are available, charter schools were more likely than all public schools to serve black students (24 percent vs. 17 percent) and Hispanic students (21 percent vs. 18 percent). ¥ Academic accountability: Performance is intensively reviewed by authorizers and parents who must annually renew their commitment to a school. ¥ Parent and teacher satisfaction surpasses that of parents and teachers in traditional public schools. Critics contend charter schools do no better than traditional ones, citing some Òbad appleÓ stories or lowgrade research. Seven percent of all charters that ever opened have been shut down for failing to meet their goals. Yet 11 percent of all public schools are failing, and there are no provisions for closure. Charter schools are improving education by sparking improvements in the traditional system Ñ leading schools and districts to alter behavior or improve offerings. Charters offer atrisk programs and stateoftheart education. They provide arts and music education, Core Knowledge, Montessori, Back to Basics or other thematic instruction; double the reading instruction; raise the expectations; set innovative discipline policies and ensure parental buyin. Teachers get wide latitude, and more time is spent teaching.
They educate but do not overlabel specialneeds children. With 80 percent of the funds normally allotted for education, they are still expected to perform, and perform better Ñ and they do. Some people ask why this can't be done in the regular public school system. The answer is quite simple: Educational change doesn't happen without pressure.
Associate Director, Educational Issues Department, American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Written for the CQ Researcher, December 2002 In 1988, when former AFT President Albert Shanker first embraced the idea of charter schools, he envisioned them as laboratories of innovation that would offer new curricula and teaching strategies, eliminate burdensome red tape and improve student achievement. But today, good charter schools are few and far between. A recent AFT report found that most charters have not lived up to their promise to raise student achievement and promote innovation. Of current charter schools, more than half: ¥ Fail to raise student achievement compared to traditional public schools in the same area; ¥ Fall far short of meeting expectations to bring innovation into the classroom and the public school system at large; ¥ Tend to sort children by socioeconomic status; and, ¥ Spend more money on administration and less on instruction than other public schools. Charter schools' staunchest defenders may try to dismiss the AFT report as an aberration, but recent independent research Ñ in states like California, North Carolina and Texas Ñ confirms AFT's findings that charter schools are not leading to innovation or higher student achievement, and, in fact, too often are failing to keep pace with the public schools. States bear some of the blame for the failure of charter schools. Few states provide adequate oversight, leading to mismanagement and fraud. In Ohio, the Coalition for Public Education has filed a suit charging that Ohio's charterschool program violates the state constitution. And California newspapers assert that state's charter schools have used taxpayer dollars to hire convicted felons, buy a
sports car for a school official and commit other offenses. More than half of the nation's charter schools are in Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Texas, yet these states have openended charter school laws that allow such abuses to continue unchecked. Ardent charter school supporters focus on the few positives, while ignoring or distorting the main body of research and will certainly continue to push for more charters and less oversight. That would be a mistake. To date, the charter experiment is a disappointment at best. Charter schools serve only as a distraction from effective reforms that are raising achievement in communities around the country: smaller class sizes, better early childhood education and greater emphasis on putting wellqualified teachers into every classroom. Policymakers owe it to the public to examine the existing research before they give charter schools a blank check for expansion.
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1970s Lawmakers and educators experiment with publicschool choice programs. 1971 St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minn., offer the first public choice program in alternative ÒopenÓ and ÒfreeÓ schools, followed by similar schools in Scarsdale, N.Y., Philadelphia, Pa., and Arlington, Va. 1980s Nation decides U.S. schools need reform. 1983 National Commission on Excellence in Education publishes dire warnings about declining quality of U.S. education in ÒA Nation at RiskÓ report. 1988 National labor, education and civic leaders hatch idea for charter schools Ñ a concept scribbled on a napkin at Minneapolis foundation conference. 1990s
Charter school movement expands to 36 states and the District of Columbia. 1991 Minnesota enacts first charter school law. 1992 First charter school opens in St. Paul, Minn. California enacts second charter law. 1993 Charter school laws are enacted in Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico and Wisconsin. 1994 Federal government backs charter schools in reauthorization of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). . . . Arizona enacts one of the nation's most farreaching charter school laws. 1995 Abandoning earlier opposition, National Education Association (NEA) launches fiveyear effort that results in four NEA charter schools. 1996 Congress passes District of Columbia School Reform Act granting chartering authority to the D.C. Board of Education and D.C. Public Charter School Board. 1998 ESEA amended with Charter School Expansion Act, which increases federal funding and support. 2000s Charter school movement continues to expand. 2000 In presidential campaign, both Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore promise huge expansion of charter schools; Bush talks of $3 billion in loan guarantees, Gore vows to triple number of schools by 2010. August 2000 Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and Ford Foundation award $100,000 to Minnesota for its charter school law, to be used for nationwide advocacy. Oct. 26, 2000
National Council of La Raza, a nationwide advocacy group for Hispanics, announces it has raised $6.7 million to develop a network of Latinooriented charter schools. Nov. 14, 2000 Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gives nonprofit Aspire Public Schools $3 million to create network of small charter schools, part of larger efforts to create smaller schools. Jan. 8, 2002 President Bush signs No Child Left Behind Act, requesting $300 million in funding for charter schools and guaranteeing that charters can continue to report their yearly progress to their sponsors, rather than the local school board. April 29May 3, 2002 President Bush proclaims National Charter Schools Week. ÒCharter schools embody the principles of President Bush's No Child Left Behind plan Ñ marrying strict accountability for results, greater options for parents and families, and more freedom and flexibility than traditional public schools,Ó Education Secretary Rod Paige says. June 1922, 2002 Education Department convenes fourth national charter school conference in Milwaukee. June 27, 2002 U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Ohio's school voucher program, which allows publicschool kids to attend parochial schools in Cleveland, using public education funds for their tuition; some charter school advocates are pleased. Nov. 5, 2002 GOP election gains boost advocates for voucher programs in Texas, South Carolina and Colorado, in addition to those in effect in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin. Ê Ê
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Freedom and Headaches: An Educator's Plunge
Taking the plunge into charter schools brings veteran educators freedom Ñ and new headaches. ÒThere was a shocking realization when I went from being in the instructional arena to the business arena in one fell swoop,Ó says Linda Proctor Downing, a former magnet highschool director who started four unique charter schools in Phoenix. ÒThough I had been an educator for 20 years, I really hadn't understood how hard people in the district bureaucracy have to work to keep instructional programs running day to day.Ó Downing is now in her sixth year running the nonprofit operation Ñ Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center (AAEC) Ñ where nearly 300 high school students ride horses and do ranching chores while studying anatomy, physiology, genetics and mathematics. The Arizona Department of Education funds the schools, housed on community college campuses, but fundraising is always a necessity. Downing is currently in the throes of planning new fundraising to expand the equestrian programs at the two newest centers, started six months ago. ÒIt was an eyeopener that the business aspect meant being on call 24 hours a day, seven days week,Ó she says. The flexibility Downing has in running the school is reflected in her approach to paying teachers. ÒWe have no salary scale, and we pay what the market demands, with no two similar salaries,Ó she explains. ÒWe hire the best person we can find from an industry, often people whom the school system wouldn't hire because they lack secondary certification.Ó ÒWe recently stole a biochemist from the local neurological institute,Ó Downing adds. ÒIn my previous school, I had no say in hiring, firing or discipline. Now I can collaborate with staff members and set up an interview team.Ó She can offer job candidates smaller class loads than traditional schools.
AAEC students Aaron Fontes and Tiana Orberson display their biotech project, ÒScreening Desert Plants as Potential Antibiotics,Ó at the Future Farmers of America annual competition in Louisville, Ky. (Arizona Agriculture and Equine Center/Robert Sinnott)
The downside to the operation's small size and flexibility is that outside auditors Òare a lot harder on us than they are on traditional schools,Ó Downing says. ÒWe're so small that they can spend more time looking at us.Ó The auditors have
been impressed both with her students' scores on standardized tests and with the high number of collegelevel credits they earn from the community colleges Ñ the average student graduates with a 3.43 grade point average and 46 college credits. ÒSome students have actually received their community college degrees before they get their diploma from us,Ó Downing says. The program's intimate size also means Òwe know every kid and parent in the school,Ó Downing says. Parents and children sign an agreement promising to strive for good grades and good attendance; the school promises zero tolerance for misbehavior. ÒParents have immediate access to me by phone.Ó Managerial flexibility stands as a key attraction for entrepreneurial educators. As a Massachusetts charter principal told a researcher for the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, ÒWhen we get a rŽsumŽ, we call the number, and we can hire the person on the spot if we like them.Ó Another principal explained that his school Òexpected more of teachers and paid them less, a guarantee that those who took the job really were imbued with the mission of the school.Ó Some principals boasted of being able to fire a lunch caterer for late deliveries or take students on a field trip with just two days' notice. Others exulted at being freed from the budget syndrome common in traditional schools, in which funds not specifically earmarked are spent haphazardly at the end of the year merely to avoid ÒlosingÓ them Ñ having them withheld the following year. Teachers also like the opportunities charter schools offer for indepth lessons. Dave Philhower, a fourthgrade teacher at the Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., has taken his students to the National Zoo more than 30 times to study animals and help write children'slevel exhibit labels. At his previous teaching job in the suburbs, ÒI would never have had the release time or an administration so supportive,Ó he says. The risks of experimentation, however, are high for charter schools, because they have such high profiles, and the financing is often dicey. ÒIn the charter arena, we don't get a second chance,Ó Downing says. Ò If you don't get it right the first time, you're likely to end up in the newspaper.Ó
 Quoted in Bill Triant, ÒAutonomy and Innovation: How Do Massachusetts Charter School Principals Use Their Freedom?Ó Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, December 2001.
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Are Charter Schools Failing Special Education?
When Patricia Chittams removed her learningdisabled son from the World Public Charter School, in Washington, D.C., she said he wasn't receiving the extra help he needed. ÒThey provided no specialeducation services, no matter how much we wrote and begged,Ó said Chittams. ÒThey did nothing.Ó Ultimately, the city school board closed World Public and another local charter school, charging Ñ among other problems Ñ that they had failed to provide adequate specialeducation services. Some parents and educators fear that the nation's 2,700 charter schools, because of their experimental, regulationexempted structure, may be neglecting children with disabilities. ÒIts hard to say that the charter school movement has been beneficial to specialeducation students,Ó says National School Boards Association (NSBA) spokesman Marc Egan. Others argue that the charter school model allows schools to better serve children with disabilities. ÒIf you're a charter school that serves the deaf or the blind, then you get an economy of specialization, and you can really concentrate on serving those kids' needs,Ó says Herbert J. Walberg, a scholar at the Hoover Institution and charter school board member. Government assessments of the prevalence of specialeducation programs at charter schools have produced seemingly contradictory results. A Department of Education study completed in 1999 found that specialeducation students made up 8.3 percent of the charter school student population, compared to 11.2 percent at regular public schools. However, the same report also cited findings indicating that charter schools enroll specialeducation students at a slightly higher rate than their regular counterparts. In conclusion, the Education Department researchers say in most areas data on charter schools and special education Òare scant.Ó And since charter schools are authorized by 39 different state laws, it's difficult to broadly assess their impact. ÒThe federal government is not collecting data on charter schools and special education because the states are responsible for monitoring [them],Ó says Eileen Ahearn, program director at the National
Association of State Directors of Special Education. While charter schools do not have to comply with many federal and state regulations, they are not exempt from federal laws prohibiting discrimination against the disabled or handicapped. ÒThe laws say [public] schools must provide specialeducation services to students with disabilities,Ó says Lynda Van Kuren, spokeswoman for the Council for Exceptional Children. ÒTherefore, it is incumbent on charter schools to provide those services.Ó A 1975 federal law Ñ now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Ñ says no student can be denied admission or participation in any school program receiving federal financial assistance. Federal funds make up about 7 percent of overall public school monies. ÒCharter schools are public schools, they're receiving tax dollars and they cannot deny admission to any student,Ó says Egan of the NSBA. Yet some charter school programs have logged a disproportionate number of specialeducationrelated complaints. For instance, Arizona Ñ which with 465 charter schools has more than any other state Ñ recently revealed that its charter schools accumulate specialeducation complaints at a rate six times higher than traditional public schools. ÒRecently there seems to be an increasing number of hearings requested [under IDEA] regarding charter schools,Ó Ahearn says. Charter schools must accept every student that applies or hold a lottery if there are more applicants than the school can accommodate. However, Ahearn is not aware of any federal lawsuits challenging charter schools' treatment of specialed students. She attributes the lack of complaints to the availability of official avenues of complaint under IDEA. Advocates for the disabled say some charter schools are Òweeding outÓ the hardertoeducate specialeducation students. They might be avoiding specialed students because they score more poorly on standardized tests, and educators are under increasing pressure to show improvement on test scores. Egan admits that he has no hard statistics on how widespread the practice is. ÒWe have some concerns that charter schools may only be admitting children with lesssevere disabilities, because they are less costly to educate and provide for,Ó he says. Charter advocates argue that federally mandating specialeducation services at
charter schools only makes them less effective. ÒThe whole idea of charter schools is to get away from bureaucratic regulation from the federal and state governments,Ó Walberg says. ÒSpecial education Ñ because of these bureaucratic and burdensome categories like IDEA Ñ causes a real burden for charter schools. The federal regulations should be loosened.Ó Because most charter schools are smaller than their traditional publicschool counterparts, they may lack the facilities and staff to meet every child's special needs. ÒYou have this huge inefficiency of these federal and state programs. It's a way that the forces of the status quo can prevent charter schools from thriving,Ó Walberg adds. For some, charter schools offer a middle ground between federally mandated inclusion and nontraditional public schooling. At the CHIME charter school in Los Angeles, Principal Julie Fabrocini and her colleagues integrate children with special needs into mainstream classrooms, a process required by IDEA. ÒBeing a charter school affords us more opportunities to more thoroughly integrate kids with disabilities, because we start from the ground up and bring in staff and faculty who are of like mind,Ó she says. ÒWe want schools to [reflect] an accurate representation of the community, and we want to stop an institutionalized perspective for people with disabilities.Ó In the end, until more legitimate research is done, the jury is still out on whether the disabled are being adequately served by charter schools. ÒThe data collection is still being done to see what exactly the charter school movement has given to special education,Ó adds Egan. Walberg agrees: ÒIt's nearly impossible to answer the question of how well charter schools are serving specialeducation students because charters are very heterogeneous. What we have right now are arguments rather than evidence.Ó
Document Citation Clark, C. S. (2002, December 20). Charter schools. CQ Researcher, 12, 10331056. Retrieved June 11, 2008, from CQ Researcher Online, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2002122000. Document ID: cqresrre2002122000
Document URL: http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2002122000 The CQ Researcher ¥ December 20, 2002 ¥ Volume 12, Number 44 © 2008, CQ Press, A Division of SAGE Publications. All Rights Reserved. General Terms of Service | Copyright Notice and Takedown Policy | Masthead
Author(s): Hermes, MaryÊ Title:
The scientific method, Nintendo, and Eagle feathers: rethinking the meaning of "culturebased" curriculum at an Ojibwe tribal school
Source: International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 13, no. 4 (2000): 387400 Additional Info: Taylor and Francis Ltd; 20000701 Abstract: In this article, the author analyzes the assumptions people make about culture and curriculum and asks what prevents the idea of culturebased curriculum from making radical changes in Native American schooling. She attributes the segregation of "culture" from "academic" curriculum to an internalization of colonial structures. In this scenario, "culturebased" (Native American)curriculum is superimposed on a curriculum that is already based in culture (Western European.) She discusses some of the ways a static notion of culture is played out at one tribal school and what the implications of these hegemonic practices are. Further, she discusses some classroom practices that refuse an essentialist definition of "Ojibwe" culture as a basis for curriculum and instead act to engage students in the process of making meaning in their classroom. It is suggested that by thinking of culture as creating relationships and meaning, we shall be able to move beyond the destructive dichotomy that associates intellectual rigor with Whiteness. Accession No: 0951839809518398(20000701)13:4L.387_17 Database: ECO
Creating Sacred Places for Children in Grades 46.
Sandra J Fox 2001 English Document (ED) 248 NISBA, P.O. Box 790, Polson, MT 59860. credit card orders: 8005424922 (Toll Free) ($25.00 plus $3.95 shipping).
This guide attempts to help teachers of American Indian children in grades 46 provide a culturally relevant education that takes place in the regular classroom, includes content related to Indian students' lives, makes students proud, expands to other experiences, and enhances learning. Creating sacred places means responding appropriately to students' academic, social, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs....
Complicating Discontinuity: What about Poverty?
Source: Curriculum Inquiry v35 n1 p926 Mar 2005 (18 pages) Additional Info: Journal Customer Services, Blackwell Publishing, 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148. Tel: 8008356770 (Toll Free); Fax: 7813888232; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.; http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467873X.2005.00313.x Standard No: ISSN: 03626784 Language: English Abstract: In this article, two white science teachers at tribal schools in the Upper Midwest of the United States, who were identified by community members and school administrators as successful teachers, describe experiences of how they wrestle with the daily effects of generations of oppression. Most vividly, they talk about poverty. This article provides a description of some of the beliefs and attitudes, described by the teachers, that help them to be effective allies and teachers for Native American students. Their interviews offer a glimpse into the internal struggle with the contradictions of oppression. This article broadens the discussion of Native American culturebased education and raises questions for the general applicability of cultural discontinuity as an allencompassing explanation for Native American school failure.
High School Segregation and Access to the University of California
Isaac Martin;Ê Jerome Karabel;Ê Sean W Jaquez 2005 English Article (EJ) 23 Educational Policy, v19 n2 p308330 May 2005 Sage Publications, 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320. Tel: 8008187243 (Toll Free); Fax: 8005832665 (Toll Free). Using institutional data on fall 1999 freshman admissions, we document the existence and magnitude of inequalities among California high schools in the access they provide to the University of California (UC). Because high schools are segregated by socioeconomic status and race, we examine how
schools that differ on these dimensions also differ in their rates of admission to UC.... Title:
High School Segregation and Access to the University of California
Source: Educational Policy v19 n2 p308330 May 2005 (23 pages) Additional Info: Sage Publications, 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320. Tel: 8008187243 (Toll Free); Fax: 8005832665 (Toll Free).; http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0895904804274058 Standard No: ISSN: 08959048 Language: English Abstract: Using institutional data on fall 1999 freshman admissions, we document the existence and magnitude of inequalities among California high schools in the access they provide to the University of California (UC). Because high schools are segregated by socioeconomic status and race, we examine how schools that differ on these dimensions also differ in their rates of admission to UC. We find that UC admission rates are grossly unequal between the public and private sectors and within each sector. Different groups, however, face different barriers. Schools where the student body is heavily Latino tend to have low per capita admissions because fewer students apply; schools where the student body is heavily African American tend to have low per capita admissions because fewer applicants are admitted. Our research suggests the need for both high school outreach to increase applications and contextual review of applications to reduce inequalities in the admission of applicants. References: Number: 64 Peer Reviewed: Yes
Majority African American Schools and Social Injustice: The Influence of De Facto Segregation on Academic Achievement* CARL BANKSTON mI University of Southwestern Louisiana STEPHEN J. CALDAS, University of Southwestern Louisiana Abstract The research reported here proceeds on the premise that if minority race and its predominance in particular schools constitutes a disadvantage in the educational system, then members of the privileged group will tend to place their children in schools that avoid the supposed liability of minority concentration, and thereby perpetuate inequality. We draw upon the remarks of James Coleman, who posited that intangible resources are concentrated in the schools of the privileged group, and are lacking in the schools with a high concentration of minorities. In this research, we examine whether the racial composition of schools has an influence on individual achievement, controlling for the race of individuals. Our findings are that the degree of minority concentration has a powerful negative influence on achievement test results, that this influence does not
appear to be explained by socioeconomic factors or other factors, and that both whites and African Americans are negatively affected by degree of minority concentration.
Conclusion Our findings do provide evidence that (1) being African American does appear to be related to lower levels of measured academic achievement in Louisiana schools, (2) this relationship does not appear to be attributable either to readily discernible individual traits or individual family socioeconomic characteristics, (3) de facto segregation, understood as minority concentration, constitutes a disadvantage over and above that of individual students' own racial status, (4) minority concentration seems to exercise a negative influence independent of patterns of behavior and habits prevailing in schools and independent of the socioeconomic level of schools, and (5) African Americans are, as we might expect, the most seriously affected by minority concentration schools.
Navajo Mothers and Daughters: Schools, Jobs, and the Family DONNA DEYHLE AND FRANK MARGONIS University of Utah Navajo women's historically problematic relation to public schools might be best understood by considering the role that matrilineal networks play in giving Navajo women a place of respect as mothers and daughtersa life course to which schools contribute little. Navajo women's commitment to cooperative family relations is sharply at odds with contemporary educational practice and much educational thought, which assumes the desirability of an individualistic lifestyle and is devoted to helping students adopt a middleclass orientation. AMERICAN INDIAN EDUCATION, NAVAJO WOMEN, JOBS AND SCHOOLING, FEMINIST RESEARCH p. 160 This picture, wherein women must choose between romance and achievement, does not capture Navajo women's choices on the reserva tion or their values. For both romance and achievement signal life courses that are part of middleclass circumstances and an individualis tic middleclass perspective that is foreign to Navajo women's lives. p. 162 At present, most Navajo women pursue life as mothers and daughters on the reservation, and schoolsas currently conceivedoffer little to that life course. Schools serve as avenues to upperlevel jobs, and since Navajo women value family more than careers, most are not committed p.163 to overcoming the credentialing hurdles required to qualify for profes
sionallevel employment. Moreover, Navajo women expect that their efforts would be blunted by Anglo job discrimination. To the degree that educators neglect Navajo women's ethical disagreements with middle class lifestyles and realistic assessments of the opportunities promised by such a life, they will continue to misunderstand Navajo women's relations to schools. Segregation not good for academic performance The Effects of Segregation on African
American High School Seniors' Academic Achievement Author(s): Roslyn Arlin Mickelson and Damien Heath Source: The Journal of Negro Education, Vol. 68, No. 4, (Autumn, 1999), pp. 566586 Published by: Journal of Negro Education
PEABODY JOURNAL OF EDUCATION, 75(4), 1936 Copyright ? 2000, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Charter Schools: The Search for Community Robert R. O'Reilly and Lynn Bosetti Charter schools have been introduced as a means of revitalizing and im proving the effectiveness of public schools. The need for change attained national attention after the publication of reports such as A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983), which alleged that the American public school system was in a state of crisis. The Com mission's report, and others that noted the failings of the public school sys tems, provided the impetus for (a) the school effectiveness movement (Barth, 1991; Cuban, 1990); (b) structural changes in the management and financing of public schools (Odden, 1995); (c) attempts to provide greater choice within public education, such as open school boundaries within school districts and even beyond school district lines (Weiss, 1998); and (d) the creation of magnet schools (Smrekar, 1996). The more dramatic attempts to restructure schools are based on the belief that market mechanisms such as various school choice plans will (a) im prove the effectiveness of schools through competition among schools for students, (b) reduce inefficiencies in the administration and delivery of edu cation, and (c) have the effect of improved educational outcomes (Chubb & Moe, 1990; Goldhaber, 1999). From these beliefs emerge plans for tuition vouchers (Friedman & Friedman, 1990), greater support for private schools,
a growth in home schooling, and the establishment of charter schools. School choice also arises out of the conditions of postmoder life, char acterized by cultural pluralism and a population that is increasingly mo bile and unrooted and where there is a lack of common vision or identity. These conditions result in a lack of consensus regarding the goals and pur poses of education (Bosetti, 1999). Parents are drawn to schools that reject a valueneutral, "onesizefitsall" approach to public schooling. Instead, they are seeking schools that resonate with their particular values and be liefs regarding the goals of education and what constitutes good teaching and learning. They are seeking schools that are safe and caring, that are free of drugs and violence, and that provide a sense of community where their children are accepted and feel they belong. Charter schools are hybrid institutions. They are public institutions that have some of the characteristics of a private agency. For example, they are public schools, effectively financed and controlled by public educational agencies. Typically, they must (a) provide a curriculum mandated by a central governing authority, (b) submit to accountability systems, and (c) be open to all students who may apply without discrimination. At the same time, they exhibit certain private sector characteristics. Each school is autonomous and has a unique charter that states the aims, objectives, and mandate of the school. Each school, beyond its public mandate, is primar ily accountable to the parents of the children of the school. Parents are in fluential members of the governing board of the school, which has the power to set objectives, control finances, and hire and replace employees. Levavic (1995) identified organizations with these characteristics as oper ating in "quasimarkets." She defined organizations in quasimarkets as public sector organizations that have separate providers and purchasers and an element of user choice. Quasimarkets remain highly regulated. Governments control (a) who may enter the market as providers, (b) levels of investment, (c) the quality of services to be provided, and (d) the price to be paid for the services. Frequently there is no cost to the consumer (i.e., tu ition fees; Levavic, 1995, p. 167). In the United States, as of the Fall of 1999, there are nearly 1,700 charter schools operating in 31 states and the District of Columbia, serving ap proximately 350,000 students. In 22 states and the District of Columbia, there are 10 or more charter schools. The largest numbers of charter schools are in the states of Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Texas, and
Florida (in that order; Center for Education Reform, 1999). Conclusion The dominant themes of charter schools in practice appear to be the new relationships between parents and the school and the redefinition of the role of the state in the administration of public education. Parents and teachers identify with their schools in ways that they have not done with a public school board or with most public schools. There is a kind of nostalgia surrounding the charter school movement in Alberta, re flected in parents' search for a small school community where their children are safe, known to all, and academically challenged. Goldring and Smrekar (1997), in their study of parental involvement in magnet schools, found that parents who are active choosers view themselves as separate from other public school parents because their choice represents a significant break from the complacency and compromise experienced in their neighborhood schools. There is a mythology of "specialness" that surrounds each charter school community that teachers, students, and parents draw on to derive their identity and meaning, and to build a culture of sentiment, tradition, and practices. In some charter schools this is reinforced through school uni forms. The sense of community, social trust, and social cohesion are some of the positive outcomes of charter schools in Alberta. ....." The state has a responsibility to (a) create poli cies; (b) target opportunities and resources toward meeting the needs of those children who have the least social, economic, and political resources; (c) ensure conditions of universal access to programs that meet the needs of children; and (d) address the issues of diversity and equity so that a good and viable society is maintained. The viable role of charter schools in meeting those objectives has yet to be determined.
Review of Educational Research Fall 2000, Vol. 70, No. 3, pp. 253285 Valued Segregated Schools for African American
Children in the South, 19351969: A Review of Common Themes and Characteristics Vanessa Siddle Walker Emory University For the last two decades, the published research on the history of education of African Americans in the south during the era of de jure segregation has shifted from a focus on the inequalities experienced by segregated schools to understanding the kind of education African American teachers, principals, and parents attempted to provide un der externally restrictive circumstances. This review provides a synthe sis of this line of research. Results indicate that exemplary teachers, the curriculum and extracurricular activities, parental involvement, and the leadership of school principals were critical characteristics influencing the communities' perceptions of the schools. Additional research is needed that will explore student outcomes, variance within the characteristics, and external influences. The more traditional and widely accepted portrait of the schools depicts a theme of almost complete inferiority. In this view, the African American segregated school is depicted as inferior because of inequal ity in facilities, lack of transportation, shorter school terms, teacherpupil con flicts, overcrowding, poor teaching, and poor student attendance (Ashmore, 1954; Baker, 1996; Clift, Anderson, & Hullfish, 1962; Crow, 1992; Johnson, 1941; Kilpatrick, 1962; Philips, 1940; Pierce, Kincheloe, Moore, Drewry, & Carmichael, 1955). Conclusion The available literature indicates that the segregated schools in the South appear to have certain consistent characteristics. These include exemplary teach
ers and principals who increasingly were well trained and who created their own culture of teaching; curricular and extracurricular activities that reinforced the values of the school and community; parental support of school, both in its financial needs and its cultural programs; and school principals who provided the leadership that implemented the vision that parents and teachers held about how to uplift the race. Accompanying descriptions of these attributes are also descriptions of the inequities the schools faced and the challenges that were created as a result. Indeed, many of the schools' characteristics appear to have been a direct response to the challenges they faced and intimately connected to the oppres sive circumstances in which they operated. In their world, there was a clear "enemy"racism. As such, the schools operated with a welldefined purpose for African American uplift that was shared by teachers, principal, and community members. All the training and modeling by teachers and principal were aimed at helping themselves and their students overcome that enemy. The curriculum and extracurricular activities were other avenues to support the same goal. Even parents supported the goal, as they provided for the schools what the schools could not provide for themselvesfinancial support. In this world, all worked together to achieve the common goal of educating students to function and
achieve in a world where the odds were stacked against them. Finally, the closed segregated community minimized difficulties in role, lan guage, values, and behaviors; it also minimized possibilities for miscommuni cations, conflict in values, and so forth. In this view, the African American school is revealed, as Rodgers (1967) writes, as a "world of its own, with its own dynamic quality and its own ecological structure" (p. 11); it was "a complex, interdependent system" (p. 15). Indeed, in this closed system where school mem bers and community members interacted in a number of settings and where school and community values reflected the beliefs of the other, the schools, as Irvine and Irvine (1983) note, "took on uniquely styled characteristics reflective of their members' patterns of communication, cultural preferences, and norma tively diffused modes of behavior" (p. 416). The school was thus as extension of the community.
American Educational Research Journal Summer 2002, Vol. 39, No. 2, pp. 279305 When Tribal Sovereignty Challenges Democracy: American Indian Education and the Democratic Ideal K. Tsianina Lomawaima Teresa L. McCarty University of Arizona The lessons ofAmerican Indian educationa grand experiment in standard izationcan lead to a more equitable educational systemfor all U.S. citizens.
While masquerading as a toolfor equal opportunity, standardization has marginalized Nativepeoples. We arguefor diversitynot standardization as a foundational value for a just multicultural democracy, but diversity is feared by some as a threat to the nation's integrity. Critical historical analy sis of the apparently contradictory policies and practices within American Indian education reveals a patterned response to cultural and linguistic diversity, as the federal government has attempted to distinguish "safe"from "dangerous" Native practices. Examples of the contest between Indigenous selfdetermination (rooted in internal sovereignty) andfederal control illus trate theprofound national ambivalence toward diversity but also thepoten tial to nourish 'places of difference" within a healthy democracy. Language and Indigenous Community Empowerment A major finding of longterm evaluations of bilingual/bicultural education at Rough Rock was that bilingual students who had the benefit of cumula tive early literacy experiences in Navajo made the greatest gains on local and national measures of achievement (McCarty, 1993b, 2002). These find ings reinforce those of other longterm evaluations of bilingual education, including the Navajo programs at Rock Point and Fort Defiance, Arizona (Holm & Holm, 1990, 1995; Rosier & Farella, 1976; see also Ramirez, 1992; Thomas & Collier, 1997). The Rough Rock data also demonstrate that liter acy in a second language is mediated by firstlanguage literacy, a finding supported by numerous earlier studies in a variety of linguistic and socio cultural settings (e.g., Crawford, 1997; Cummins, 1989, 1996; Krashen, 1996; Moll & Diaz, 1993). The criticalhistorical analysis presented here reveals the enormous investment of time and energy that has been poured into attempts to eradi cate American Indian cultural and linguistic distinctiveness. Despite this sys temic and sustained effort, American Indians have survived as distinctive and productive peoples. Can American Indian cultural distinctiveness be main
tained without the concomitant economic, political, and social marginaliza tion of Indigenous communities? This question begs a larger one: Can places of difference be maintained without denying educational, economic, politi cal, and social rights and opportunities to their inhabitants? Our answer to these questions is a passionate yes. But achieving these goals requires fac ing certain truths. Standardization, while masquerading as an equalizing force, in fact stratifies, segregates, and undercuts equality of opportunity. We have only to consider the history of American Indian education to see how this is so. Our analysis may lead readers to be pessimistic about the future. We argue for a hopeful outlook that embraces the possibility of change. We believe that the relationship between tribal sovereignty and federal sovereignty need not be an adversarial one. The choices that Native communities make need not be eitheror choices, nor must there be an immutable dividing line between Indigenous and nontribal citizens. We suggest that the relationship between tribal sovereignty and the U.S. democracy can more profitably be viewed as an inspiration. Vital and persisting American Indian communities can inspire the nation's citizens to rise to the challenge of securing a democ racy in which equality is more than rhetoric, and social justice prevails. Schools are essential institutions for developing these critical democratic values. Our analysis demonstrates that schools can be constructed as places of difference where children are free to learn, question, and grow from a position that affirms
299 who they are. This vision of critical democracy, long held within Indigenous communities, has the power to create a more just and equitable educational system for all. 2We use the terms American Indian, Native, and Indigenous interchangeably to refer to peoples indigenous to what is now the United States. We recognize that the pre and postcolonial experiences of Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians differ substantially from those of American Indians in the 48 contiguous states, just as great diversity exists among the more than 550 American Indian tribes. Nonetheless, all Native peoples in the United States share a singular legalpolitical status in terms of their relationship to the U.S. gov ernment. We also use the term American in a national sense, referring to the United States of America or its citizens, recognizing that there is a larger understanding of the term refer ring to Canadians and Latin American nations and peoples.
Improving Outcomes for Urban African American Students Author(s): Ralph Gardner, III and Antoinette Halsell Miranda Source: The Journal of Negro Education, Vol. 70, No. 4, African American Children with Special Needs, (Autumn, 2001), pp. 255263 Published by: Journal of Negro Education Improving Outcomes for Urban African American Students Ralph Gardner, III and Antoinette Halsell Miranda, The Ohio State University
Almost 50 years after the Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954) decision there are still inequalities in the education system. African American children, particularly those living in impoverished communities, are at increased riskfor special education referral. This paper examines causes for the disproportionate representation of African American students in mild mental retardation (MMR) and serious emotional disturbances (SED) special education categories. It also provides recommendations to promote positive academic and social behaviorfor African American students that may prevent the students' need for specialized education services.Improving Outcomes for Urban African American Students Ralph Gardner, III and Antoinette Halsell Miranda, The Ohio State University Almost 50 years after the Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954) decision there are still inequalities in the education system. African American children, particularly those living in impoverished communities, are at increased riskfor special education referral. This paper examines causes for the disproportionate representation of African American students in mild mental retardation (MMR) and serious emotional disturbances (SED) special education categories. It also provides recommendations to promote positive academic and social behaviorfor African American students that may prevent the students' need for specialized education services.
African American students should not be placed at risk for special education due to poor instruction or cultural differences between themselves and teachers. Addition ally, effective schools can benefit from the support of structured afterschool programs. Children who live in impoverished communities often do not have the resources at home that meaningfully compliment the school's efforts. Afterschool programs can be developed to build both academic and social skills while keeping the children away from the dangerous street environment. Children who are behind academically can benefit from additional instructional opportunities. Structured afterschool programs can provide the necessary instructional opportunities to enhance student achievement. Over the last 50 years, African American students have made many educational gains. However, much work is needed to achieve true equality in education for all children. African American students continue to be overrepresented in special education. Much of the work must focus on the accurate identification of children with special needs, develop ing strong academic programs with positive behavior supports, and preparing culturally responsive teachers to work in urban environments. African American students should not be placed at risk for special education due to poor instruction or cultural differences between themselves and teachers. Addition ally, effective schools can benefit from the support of structured afterschool programs. Children who live in impoverished communities often do not have the resources at home that meaningfully compliment the school's efforts. Afterschool programs
can be developed to build both academic and social skills while keeping the children away from the dangerous street environment. Children who are behind academically can benefit from additional instructional opportunities. Structured afterschool programs can provide the necessary instructional opportunities to enhance student achievement. Over the last 50 years, African American students have made many educational gains. However, much work is needed to achieve true equality in education for all children. African American students continue to be overrepresented in special education. Much of the work must focus on the accurate identification of children with special needs, develop ing strong academic programs with positive behavior supports, and preparing culturally responsive teachers to work in urban environments.
On the Power of Separate Spaces: Teachers and Students Writing (Righting) Selves and Future Author(s): Lois Weis and Craig Centrie Source: American Educational Research Journal, Vol. 39, No. 1, (Spring, 2002), pp. 736 Published by: American Educational Research Association American Educational Research Journal Spring 2002, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 736 On the Power of Separate Spaces: Teachers and Students Writing (Righting) Selves and Future
Lois Weis and Craig Centrie State University of New York at Buffalo The debate on segregated and desegregated schools generally has been framed as an eitheror matter, and in fact, legally, this has been the case. What we have not investigated to any great extent are programs within already desegregated schools that serve an identifiable population of students for the express purpose of cultural affirmation and advancement of the tar geted group. In this article we provide data that attest to the potential power of such spaces, investigating a girls'group in an urban magnet school and a homeroom set asidefor Vietnamese students in a neighborhoodbased urban comprehensive school. Using ethnographic data, we articulate both thepower of such spaces and the contradictory impulses within such arrangements.
Conclusion Spaces in schools targeted for identifiable ethnic, racial, and gender groups can, under the right circumstances, enable the development of healthy and empowered young people. Places such as those discussed here, where youth can grow their own bodies and minds under the tutelage of strong, caring adults, are tremendously important. These places reinforce what scholars such as Michele Foster have been saying about the importance of African American teachers in schools under the control of the AfricanAmerican com munity (1990). In both the Vietnamese homeroom, in the midst of a large urban school, and the girls' group in the Arts Academy, we see young peo ple gaining specific skills as they strive to name themselves and their future. The Vietnamese, under the skillful guidance of Mr. Lee, preserved their cul ture while learning to live in America on their own terms and create a future by going to college. The young women, under the guidance of Ms. Carbonell Medina, were fighting off an envisioned future of joblessness, abuse from men and the welfare system, and unwanted pregnancies. They, too, were gaining skills and a potential a set of alliances to encourage and enable them to create that future. The two programs examined here illustrate the importance of having spaces devoted to the experiences of particular marginalized groups. What we do not know is whether the effects of these programs are long lasting. Because no followup work with these groups of students was con ducted, it is not known to what extent the messages embedded within these spaces "stick." However, experiences such as those examined here are for ever with us and offer an alternative voice throughout one's life that contrasts with the dominant messages about a group's assigned place in the United States. Certainly the narrations of African Americans who have attended schools directly under the control of the community suggest the power of alternative visions. It is in spaces constructed in opposition to the dominant
society's sense of which groups belong where that much political work has been done over the years, work that challenges the broader social structure (Omi & Winant, 1994; Evans & Boyte, 1992). A troublesome aspect of these spaces is the extent to which they un intentionally (or perhaps necessarily) rely on the construction of an "out group other," a group against which the identity of the "chosen" group is woven. For example, although there were other Southeast Asian students in the room, Mr. Lee focused only on "his" students. Indeed, the room was set up to enable only Vietnamese students to take maximum advantage of space and time, thus effectively marginalizing all other students in the room. Cer tainly this is potentially troublesome, particularly the obvious outsider nature of Hmong and Cambodians, who were assigned to the same homeroom. In the girl's group, of course, young men were not afforded the same opportu nities as the young women, although the situation was not totally analogous to that of the nonVietnamese students. Through more extensive interviews, it was found that some of the out sider nature between the Vietnamese and the other Southeast Asians was a result of traditional historic differences in Southeast Asia. Moreover, some of Mr. Lee's marshaling of classroom resources was due to the generally com petitive nature of managing scarce resources in a relatively poor school (Cen trie, 2000a). West Side High educated almost exclusively poor, innercity youth of color, as well as recent immigrant arrivals primarily from Third World countries. Few, if any, students attending West Side High are privi 32 leged visavis the larger American social structure. In the Vietnamese home room, as in any group, an identity is constructed around commonalities: col lective interests, concerns, and shared experiences. These commonalities inevitably create "others," or those who do not share the same identity. Nev ertheless, unlike fullfledged pullout programs where a large part of any given day may be spent away from the larger group, the Vietnamese students at West Side High spent the majority of the school day with the rest of the students in the school, individually and collectively learning to negotiate intergroup tensions and learning the similarities and shared interests of other groups. West Side High is well known for its International Days and pro grams, for example, and for AfricanAmerican appreciation events during February, Black History Month. Through the Vietnamese homeroom and the nurturing guidance of Mr. Lee and the Vietnamese aides, the Vietnamese students acquired the nec essary skills to foster good selfesteem while in an environment where they were learning to accept difference, not simply to tolerate others, as appears to be the goal of pluralism. An even more troubling aspect of the Vietnamese homeroom, however, revolves around the ways in which privileged Vietnamese students were potentially socialized with respect to the other students of color in the school. There was arguably much potential for the socialization of privilege and racism in the Vietnamese students who were constructed as "shining
stars"perhaps as honorary Whites, afforded privileges in the school that AfricanAmerican and Latino students, in particular, are not afforded. Whereas the Vietnamese students simultaneously experience both social subordination and racial and ethnic privilege in school, other students of color experience only social subordination. Most disturbingly, the Vietnamese data suggest that separate spaces potentially contribute to privilege for cer tain nonWhite groups at the expense of others. Ironically enough, of course, it is the insights of AfricanAmerican scholars regarding the value of separate spaces that is explored here. In this case, the particular separate space under consideration is, paradoxically, contributing to the relative dis empowerment of the very groups about which and for whom the literature was written.6 We do not claim to be able to untangle all the possible ways in which separate spaces could work for various groups in the desegregated context, given the broader racial hierarchies in the United States. The Vietnamese example makes clear the potential issues arising from such spaces, given racial and ethnic disparities. As a model, however, there is great potential power in separate spaces, and care should be taken not to affirm one group's identity and future at the expense of another's. In separate spaces such as those examined here, students are encouraged to fight backto write their own scripts in contrast to those of the dominant society about who they are and what they can and should become. They are, under the guidance of adults, learning to write alternative scripts when so many others would like to write them off entirely or edit out their homebased cultures. This model 33 offers great potential for anyone in public schools who is committed to all
students' reaching their full potential. As Nancy Fraser (1991) notes, it is advantageous for "marginals" to create "counterpublics" where they may oppose stereotypes and assert novel interpretations of their own shifting identities, interests, and needs. Fraser theorizes that these spaces are formed, ironically, out of the very exclu sionary practices of the public sphere. We too have found that these "counterpublics," which in our case existed in the midst of urban public schools, offer enormous potential as marginalized peoples struggle for space, voice, and economic justice in the United States. The implications of such spaces for educational practice demand further attention. We owe it to our youth.
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