This is an interview with Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, the scholar who was recently named dean of the University of Kentucky School of Education. JVH’s scholarship focuses on equity. He has written about charter schools and Teach for America.

From the Progressive:

Vasquez-Heilig and his co-authors, T. Jameson Brewer of the University of North Georgia College of Education, and Yohuru Williams of the University of St. Thomas College of Arts and Sciences, analyzed publicly available data to confirm what public school advocates have said for years: Nationally, higher percentages of charter students of every race attend “intensely segregated” schools.

I had an opportunity to speak with Vasquez-Heilig about his study and the urgency to address the hard truth of his findings.

Q: What questions were you were looking to answer with this study?

Vasquez-Heilig: So what we really wanted to know is, are charter schools more segregated, when you look at the state-level data, the national level data, and the local level data. We wanted to determine if the one reason why charter schools are more segregated is because they sit in segregated communities, as is often discussed.

We found that across all levels, charter schools are more segregated where African American and Latinx students are in the majority. We found geography didn’t explain that away, and that it’s growing worse.

Q: Did your research find any variation with respect to segregated charter schools from state to state?

Vasquez-Heilig: That’s a good question. There are a couple of states—and cities—where neighborhood public schools are slightly more segregated—Los Angeles, and Hawaii, for example. But those are the exceptions. In the vast majority of states and the vast majority of cities, African American and Latinx students were more segregated in charter schools.