Archives for category: Segregation , Racial Isolation and Integration

New York City public schools include eight high schools that admit students on the basis of a single score, a rigorous test that all applicants musty take. That requirement is set in state law.

Mayor de Blasio wants to increase diversity by scrapping the single test.

The de Blasio administration wants to increase diversity at the schools, which are dominated by white and Asian students, and small numbers of Black and Hispanic students.

“The city’s specialized high schools — considered some of the crown jewels of New York City’s education system — accept students based on a single test score. Over the last decade, they have come under fire for offering admissions to few students of color: While two-thirds of city students are black or Hispanic, only about 10 percent of admissions offers to those schools go to black or Hispanic students…

“Right now, we are living with monumental injustice. The prestigious high schools make 5,000 admissions offers to incoming ninth-graders. Yet, this year just 172 black students and 298 Latino students received offers. This happened in a city where two out of every three eighth-graders in our public schools are Latino or black.

“There’s also a geographic problem. There are almost 600 middle schools citywide. Yet, half the students admitted to the specialized high schools last year came from just 21 of those schools. For a perfect illustration of disparity: Just 14 percent of students at Bronx Science come from the Bronx.”

In the past, efforts to change the admissions requirements of these specialized high schools have been blocked by the Legislature, which includes a number of graduates of the specialized schools.

Chalkbeat summarized the specifics of the mayor’s plan:

“De Blasio’s solution, laid out in an op-ed in Chalkbeat, would set aside 20 percent of the seats at the eight schools for students from low-income families starting next school year. Students who just missed the test score cut-off would be able to earn one of those set-aside seats through the longstanding “Discovery” program. Just 4 percent of seats were offered through that program in 2017.

“The mayor also said he plans to push state lawmakers to change a law that requires admission at three of the schools to be decided by a single test score. That’s something de Blasio campaigned for during his run for mayor in 2014 but hasn’t made a priority since.

“Most significantly, de Blasio says for the first time that he backs a system of replacing the admissions test with a system that picks students based on their middle school class rank and state test scores. The middle-school rank component is especially notable, as an NYU Steinhardt report found that the only way to really change the makeup of the elite high schools would be to guarantee admission to the top 10 percent of students at every middle school.

“If all of these changes were implemented, de Blasio says that 45 percent of the student bodies at the eight high schools would be black or Latino.”

Recently The Century Foundation issued a report about charter schools that are “diverse by design.” The report was intended to show that charters are capable of producing integration (more than public schools) because of their “flexibility.”

The report from this liberal think tank was funded by the Walton Family Foundation, a far-right, anti-union entity that spends $200 million every year on charter schools and so has a huge incentive to sell them, especially to liberals, who might otherwise be dubious about the non-union aspect of privatization by charter schools. (More than 90% of charters are non-union and rely on temp teachers from TFA, which is generously funded by the Waltons).

But as Julian Vasquez Heilig points out in this post, TCF found only 125 charters that were “diverse by design” in a charter universe of nearly 6,000 schools. That is about 2% of the charters examined for the report.

What is the point? He thinks that the report calls attention to the charters’ lack of interest in racial integration and unintentionally makes the opposite point from the one it thinks it is making.

Today is the 64th anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision of 1954. In many ways, that decision had a profound impact on American life. As an American who grew up in a rigidly segregated era and graduated from public high school in 1956, before the Brown decision was enforced in most of the South, I know how huge a change has occurred in American society. And yet we remain in many respects far too segregated, far too separate and unequal. The promise of Brown has not been realized.

I urge you to read this conversation between John Rogers, professor of education at UCLA, and Sandra Graham, who holds the UCLA chair in Education and Diversity. They remind us of why our society needs to reclaim the value of diversity. We must learn together, work together, and build a better society together.

At the last annual conference of the Network for Public Education in Oakland, esteemed journalist Nicole Hannah-Jones spoke eloquently about the power of integrated education. That is an ideal we must strive for and never abandon.

The Century Foundation is a liberal think tank in New York City that is on the wrong side of the charter school debate. For years, it has issued reports claiming that charter schools would lead the way on racial integration. It’s not true, but TCF thinks that if it keeps saying it, it might someday be true.

Yesterday, TCF had a press conference to congratulate charter schools that were diverse by design. It identified 125 charter schools out of a sector of more than 6,000 charters.

To assert that charters are promoting diversity and integration requires cherry picking and willful blindness.

Last December, the AP reported that charter schools were among the nation’s most segregated schools. The AP said: “National enrollment data shows that charters are vastly over-represented among schools where minorities study in the most extreme racial isolation. As of school year 2014-2015, more than 1,000 of the nation’s 6,747 charter schools had minority enrollment of at least 99 percent, and the number has been rising steadily….

““Desegregation works. Nothing else does,” said Daniel Shulman, a Minnesota civil rights attorney. “There is no amount of money you can put into a segregated school that is going to make it equal.”

“Shulman singled out charter schools for blame in a lawsuit that accuses the state of Minnesota of allowing racially segregated schools to proliferate, along with achievement gaps for minority students. Minority-owned charters have been allowed wrongly to recruit only minorities, he said, as others wrongly have focused on attracting whites.”

Andre Perry, a one-time charter leader in New Orleans, has called out charter advocates for their indifference to segregation. See his article for Brookings here, where charter leaders say they really don’t care about integration. Perry was even more blunt in an article posted on The Hechinger Report, where he said that any educational reform that ignores segregation is doomed to fail.” And he included charter schools on his doomed-to-fail list of reforms.

If charters were doing such a terrific job promoting integration, which they most definitely are not, why would the National NAACP have passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on new charters?

The UCLA Civil Rights Project has repeatedly called out charter schools for causing more segregation. Look what they said about the role of charters in promoting segregation in the once well-integrated Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools in North Carolina. (January, 2018)

“Charter Schools in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County are directly and indirectly undermining school district efforts to desegregate public schools, according to a new study released today by the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA with researchers at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

“Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools were once the nation’s bellwether for successful desegregation. Today, the district exemplifies how charter schools can impede districts’ efforts to resist re-segregation,” said Roslyn Arlin Mickelson, UNC Charlotte’s Chancellor’s Professor and professor of Sociology, Public Policy and Women’s and Gender Studies at UNC Charlotte. “This research has important implications not only for schools and communities in the Charlotte Mecklenburg region, but for the national debate over the growth and role of charter schools in our nation’s education system.”

In its 2017 study of segregation in Washington, D.C., the UCLA team concluded that the city’s charter schools “have the most extreme segregation in the city.”

Given that the overwhelming evidence from reputable sources—nationally and internationally—says that charter schools and choice are drivers of segregation, why is The Century Foundation supporting the agenda of Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration?

Perhaps this explains The Century Foundation’s charter love: “This case study is part of The Century Foundation’s project on charter school diversity, funded by The Walton Family Foundation.” The Walton Family Foundation is the rightwing, anti-union, anti-public school foundation of the family made billionaires by the non-union Walmart empire. The Walton Family Foundation is spending $200 million a year to expand charter schools. Ninety percent of charter schools are non- union. Walton has given tens of millions to Teach for America to create a ready supply of inexperienced, non-union, non-career teachers for charter schools.

The lame-duck School Reform Commission in Philadelphia, which ceases to exist on June 30, voted to award a third charter to Franklin Towne Charter school, which currently has two charters serving majority-white populations. The SRC called on the charter operator to make a greater effort to achieve diversity. The current K-8 charter is 75% white; the high school charter is 83% white. They are located in diverse neighborhoods and do not reflect the neighborhood.

What makes this decision peculiar is that the owner of the Franklin Towne charter chain has engaged in ethically dubious real estate deals. As The Notebook reported, the CEO of Franklin Towne is involved in one of those real estate deals where the charter company is both landlord and tenant.

The debt of Franklin Towne Charter network is long-standing, incurred through a series of circular real estate arrangements that were used to purchase and construct school buildings and rent the buildings from companies that its CEO created.

A 2010 report from the city controller found these arrangements at nine different charter school operators around the city and described it as a way of “transferring taxpayer-funded assets to non-profits that are not accountable to the School District.” 

The report found Franklin Towne’s high school to be among those nine. CEO Joseph Venditti leased the school’s already-purchased property to a for-profit entity he created, Franklin Towne Holdings LLC, and then subleased it back to the school. He also doubled his own compensation over the course of three years. 

As CEO, Venditti took the building bought by the high school with bonds and leased it to Franklin Towne Holdings. The holding company sub-leases the building back to the school, which pays rent to the holding company. Venditti signed the lease and sublease as both CEO of the school and manager of Franklin Towne Holdings LLC, according to the 2010 city controller’s report. 

Franklin Towne is no longer collecting state reimbursements for rent payments, but a 2014 audit of the high school’s finances found that the same circular leasing arrangement was still in place. According to the audit, this agreement will not expire until January 2033.

Franklin Towne has since expanded to open a K-8 school called Franklin Towne Elementary. Audits of that school found it is in the same sort of relationship with the Richmond Street Development Corp., a nonprofit, which collects rent on the already-purchased school building.

Richmond Street Development Corp. was established by the elementary school in 2009 to acquire land and construct a school building, according to the 2014 audit. And Franklin Towne Charter Elementary is “the sole member of the corporation.” 

The school also “effectively appoints a voting majority of the board” and Richmond Street Development Corp. is “economically dependent on Franklin Towne Charter Elementary School for financial support,” according to the audit. 

The Charter Schools Office’s evaluation of Franklin Towne’s proposed new middle school, which the School Reform Commission will consider on Thursday, would be set up with a similar arrangement. This time, the high school itself would be acting as the landlord by subleasing a portion of the building to the new middle school. 

These kinds of financial shenanigans are not uncommon in the bizarre world of charter school finance.

But the question is, why would the School Reform Commission ignore this report of Franklin Towne’s shady finances?

The SRC can’t say they were not informed.

Lisa Haver, retired teacher and public school activist, suggested some possible reasons for the SRC’s readiness to award a new charter to the Franklin Towne charter chain in her testimony to the School Reform Commission before they voted to approve expansion:

Testimony of Lisa Haver to the School Reform Commission

April 26, 2018

There is no need in the Frankford/Tacony community for another Franklin Towne Charter.  Franklin Towne already gades 6-7-8 in its K-8 school. The only reason that company needs a new school is to secure its own bottom line.

I taught at Harding Middle School in Frankford for over 10 years. It seemed that there were 2 exits for graduating 8th graders: one for the African-American and Latino students to Frankford High, and another for the white students to Franklin Towne Charter, which should be renamed the Lower Northeast Democratic Ward Leaders Apartheid Real Estate Charter Company.  How does a school in ANY neighborhood in this city, in particular that neighborhood, explain an 83% white enrollment rate? That alone is reason to deny.

As I said about Aspira, what we see here is a Real Estate company/bank that happens to run charter schools.

As CEO, Venditti took the building bought by the high school with bonds and leased it to Franklin Towne Holdings. The holding company sub-leases the building back to the school, which pays rent to the holding company. Venditti signed the lease and sublease as both CEO of the school and manager of Franklin Towne Holdings LLC, according to the 2010 city controller’s report. 

 Venditti is the proposed “incorporator” of the middle school. He is also the CEO of the high school. The high school is proposed to be the management organization for the middle school, as well as its landlord.

 The Charter Schools Office’s evaluation of Franklin Towne’s proposed new middle school…would be set up with a similar arrangement. This time, the high school itself would be acting as the landlord by subleasing a portion of the building to the new middle school. 

 Is it the business of the SRC to fund this pyramid scheme—with taxpayer dollars?

 FTC board pays Venditti $226K to manage two schools, which is almost the amount Dr. Hite is paid to mange 200 schools.  What we don’t know, because of the legal firewall charters are allowed to set up, is how much Venditti makes off of the real estate dealings.

Of all of the political connections of the FTC board, this is the crucial one:

Ryan Mulvey, a board member for Franklin Towne’s elementary school, is a legislative aide for State Sen. John Sabatina Jr., a Democrat, and would also be on the board of the middle school if it is approved.

 Sabatina is the ward leader who supported Commissioner Green’s failed run for Congress.  In fact, Mr. Green’s address on his filing form, 7718 Castor Avenue, 2nd floor, is a commercial property whose sign says “Sabatina Associates”.  Ryan Mulvey’s brother, Scott Mulvey, was Mr. Green’s chief of staff when he was a city councilman.  Thus, Mr. Green, who should have recused himself when he voted to approve this application in February, must recuse himself now from any vote on FTC.




In a major ruling for school integration, the 11th Circuit Federal Appeals Court ruled that Gardendale can’t split away to form its own district because its motives were to resegregate. 

“A federal appeals court ruled today that Gardendale can’t form its own school system and agreed with a judge’s finding that racial motives were involved in the attempt to split from the Jefferson County system.

“It’s a ruling Gardendale plans to appeal.

“The three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that U.S. District Court Judge Madeline Haikala rescind the part of her order from last year that allowed Gardendale to secede over a three-year period from Jefferson County schools and form its own system.

“Circuit Judge William Pryor, a former Alabama Attorney General, wrote the opinion.

“The district court (Haikala) found that the Gardendale Board acted with a discriminatory purpose to exclude black children from the proposed school system and, alternatively, that the secession of the Gardendale Board would impede the efforts of the Jefferson County Board to fulfill its desegregation obligations,” according to the 11th Circuit opinion. “Despite these findings, the district court devised and permitted a partial secession that neither party requested.”

This is a major setback to the movement for resegregation.

It is a relief to see a federal court once again defending justice.

Now, on to the U.S. Supreme Court, which once ruled consistently to uphold the Brown decision but has backed away recently.

A new blogger, a teacher in Detroit who has taught in both charter and public schools, ponders here why it is so hard to desegregate the public schools in Detroit.

Detroit has lots of segregated schools and lots of choice.

He notes:

“Thus, a problem with school of choice is that many White parents simply remove their children from schools with increasingly Black student populations, either taking them to Whiter public school districts Whiter charter schools, or Whiter private schools. Regardless if this is the intention, the result is the same: students are losing out on the valuable opportunity to learn next to students that don’t look like them.”


In an important article, Kevin Welner and William Mathis of the National Education Policy Center argue that school choice is not “the civil rights issue of our time,” as Betsy DeVos and Trump (and before them, Arne Duncan) maintain.

School choice was devised by southern segregationists to fight the Brown decision of 1954, and school choice today is promoting racial and economic segregation.

Segregation is bad for students and for our society.

As they show, Jeanne Allen and other charter and voucher zealots attacked not only Randi Weingarten for accurately describing the history of school choice, they even attacked the NAACP for calling for a moratorium on new charters.

Choice is a consumer good but not a social good.

They write:

”When schools shift from democratically run to privately run institutions, their very purpose itself can shift toward merely serving the private interests of customer parents. In that context, success is often realized by wooing more students who are lower-cost and higher-achieving.

“Contrast this with the purposes of education memorialized in states’ constitutional provisions. To advance the common good, Massachusetts speaks to wisdom, knowledge and virtue among all groups of people. New Hampshire says that knowledge and learning must be spread throughout the various parts of the land. Vermont speaks of expanding virtue and preventing vice. The private benefits of an education received by individual children are valuable, but so are the societal benefits of a thoughtful, informed and united popu-lace.

“The genius of the American educational system is not just in what it gives to the individual. It is in what it provides to society as a whole. We face the great challenge of providing equal opportunities and common values to an increasingly fragmented society. Can we sustain and transmit this democratic covenant of rights and responsibilities to a new generation? Can we do this in a society with increasing levels of privately run choice schools?”



The next time an advocate of school choice claims it is “ the civil rights issue of our time,” tell him or her about Michigan. After many years of school choice, it is now one of the most segregated states in the nation, tied with Mississippi and just behind the District of Columbia. 

Is racial segregation the new definition of civil rights?

”Jennifer Chambers and Christine MacDonald with the Detroit News report that the Associated Press analyzed data from the National Center for Education Statistics enrollment data from the 2014-2015 school year.

“The AP found that a large number of African-American students are enrolled in schools which are largely segregated, especially in Michigan, where 40% of black students are in public schools that are in “extreme racial isolation.”

“That puts Michigan in second-place nationwide, tied with Mississippi and behind only Washington, D.C., which came in at 66%.”

Racial segregation is highly correlated with low test scores.

“One major factor was charter schools, which are much more segregated than traditional public schools on average. In Michigan, 64% of black charter students are in schools in which the student bodies are more than 90% black.“

The head of Michigan’s charter association said the charter school hypersegrgatuin merely reflected residential patterns.

Truth is, charter advocates don’t really care about segregation or integration.



Just a few days before the Network for Public Education Conference in Oakland, the MacArthur Foundation announced its annual “genius” awards. One of the 24 winners was the keynote speaker at the NPE Conference. Nikole Hannah-Jones is an investigative journalist and staff writer at the New York Times Magazine. Previously she worked at ProPublica. She is noted for her work on segregation, integration, and social justice. She documented the resegregation of America’s public schools and explains why this trend hurts children and the future of American society and must be challenged.

Watch her outstanding presentation here. You will learn a lot.