DFER National President Shavar Jeffries Statement on the Associated Press Study on Segregation and Charter Schools

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

DFER National President Shavar Jeffries Statement on the Associated Press Study on Segregation and Charter Schools

Washington, DC – Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) National President Shavar Jeffries released the following statement in response to a recently released story from the Associated Press on school segregation:

“The Associated Press report on school segregation raises important issues regarding educational equality and equity. Unfortunately, AP’s coverage is a missed opportunity of epic proportions. Instead of an enlightening examination of racially-based resource and achievement gaps, AP advances the peculiar assertion that public charter schools, which serve only 6% of the nation’s public school students, are the driving force behind segregated schools.

“AP makes apples to oranges comparisons that contrast the demographics of individual charter schools to those of entire cities. This ignores the blatantly obvious fact that charter schools are concentrated in neighborhoods with high proportions of students of color to provide them an alternative to the low-performing traditional public schools they previously had no choice but to attend. In a city like New York, for example, it’s hardly surprising that parents in the Bronx are desperate for better schools, close to home, regardless of their racial makeup and that those in Park Slope, Brooklyn are quite happy with the great, mostly White schools they’ve always had.

“Equally astounding, AP failed to focus on the other side of the equation: schools that are virtually all-White through intentionally drawn neighborhood boundaries, entrance exams, and other policies. Apparently, the school segregation problem boils down to Black and Brown parents choosing schools that aren’t White enough, as if the doors of all-White schools would magically open if only they had the good sense to seek to enroll their children in them.

“There’s no doubt there are benefits for students who attend racially diverse schools. At the same time, it’s no secret that the same prejudices that drove school segregation 60 years ago have continued to manifest in equally discriminatory ways after court mandates to desegregate. As such, we take issue with the assumption that Black and Brown children can’t learn unless they attend school alongside White children. In fact, across public charter schools in urban regions, Black students in poverty receive the equivalent of 59 days of additional learning in math and 44 days of additional learning in reading compared to their peers in traditional public schools.

“The AP report distracts us from keeping our eye on the prize. Our mission as a country must be to do all we can to give every child, in every neighborhood, a great education now. Charter schools are not by themselves a panacea for the racial inequities that have undercut opportunities for children of color for well over 100 years. But across this country, they’re providing students a high-quality public school option previously unavailable to them. Parents need more, not fewer, of those kinds of choices.”

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Contact: Ashley Johnson — ashleyj@dfer.org, 908-209-8992