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Initial Issue Post

elporter's picture

An issue in American schools that I've been thinking about is the impact that charter schools has on resolving and/or furthering racial inequality. Because students are now leaving their neighborhood schools to attend a "better" school elsewhere, this could be seen as an attempt to resolve de facto segregation in schools due to segregated neighborhoods. I would like to know more about whether or not these schools are actually providing better opportunities for their students. Schools like KIPP, for example, have a reputation of advertising innovation, but inevitably mirroring the same system of hierarchy in decision making that occurs in public schools. Specifically, KIPP is known for placing heavy emphasis on standardized achievement, which has been problemetized and politicized by those who advocate for racial justice in schools. 


A lot of the literature that I have read on charter schools does not match the narratives of my peers who have attended them. I have friends who have attended KIPP charter schools and will say that it was the best thing that happened to them. It makes me wonder where the disconnect lies in the larger narrative of education scholars and the more individual narratives of those who grew up in that system. To what extent are students of marginalized races being empowered by charter schools, and to what extent are they making a disservice to these students?


jccohen's picture


I appreciate your naming this tension and even contradiction between the reported experiences of many students now at college who got here partly through their experiences in charter schools and the macro argument that charters are deeply problematic for public education.  Doing a closer analysis of this tension could provide a rich topic for your issue paper.  You might include a close reading of our shared readings and perhaps another piece or two as well as some interviews with people you know who've attended charters in urban areas...