NEPC Review: Segregation, Race, and Charter Schools: What Do We Know? (Brookings Institution, October 2016)
Noting the nation’s renewed attention to remedying school segregation, Segregation, Race, and Charter Schools presents evidence about the extent of school segregation and its relationship with improving student achievement for students of color. The report argues that school segregation has remained flat for decades and also argues that the nation would be wise to instead attend to improving the quality of schools that students of color and low-income students attend. It points to some urban charter schools as exemplars of this latter approach. However, this review finds that the report omits significant research directly related to the topic and includes other studies that are less relevant. Moreover, the report draws questionable conclusions from studies that are included—conclusions that are not reflective of the research consensus. The report’s selective interpretation of existing research leads to two erroneous conclusions about improving educational outcomes for students of color: (1) that focusing on school integration is relatively unimportant; and (2) that attending to school quality via school choice, rather than addressing the complex array of policies to combat racial segregation, should instead be pursued. In fact, because most forms of school choice further segregation, the report’s recommendation will likely only further segregation and inequality for students.