Joe Nathan, who was a leading figure in the development of the charter movement, has spiritedly defended charters on this blog. He points to charters in Minnesota to show that the original ideals of the movement survive there. Unlike New York City, for example, where the charters are aggressively entrepreneurial, glory in pushing public schools out of their space, spend more than the neighborhood public school, and crow that they are far, far better and get higher test scores and deserve even more space.
But Minnesota is not altogether idyllic. Last December, John Hechinger of Bloomberg News wrote a disturbing article about segregated charter schools in Minnesota. He wrote about an all-black charter school (for “East African children”) in St. Paul and another charter in St. Paul that is 90 percent white (German immersion).
The title of his article: “Segregated Charter Schools Evoke Separate but Equal Era in U.S. Education.”
A sample of the article, which I recommend:
Six decades after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down “separate but equal” schools for blacks and whites, segregation is growing because of charter schools, privately run public schools that educate 1.8 million U.S. children. While charter-school leaders say programs targeting ethnic groups enrich education, they are isolating low-achievers and damaging diversity, said Myron Orfield, a lawyer and demographer.
It is fair to ask, What is the end game? Where are we heading? What is the goal? Separate schools for every ethnic group? The end of the idea of common schooling?