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Friday, May 2, 2014

Charter School segregation in Connecticut

audrey horne animated GIFCivil rights attorney Wendy Lecker calls out the charter sector of Connecticut for its unabashed practice of racial segregation.

A new report from Connecticut Voices for Children finds that charter schools are hyper segregated and that they exclude children with disabilities and English language learners.

Don’t expect the State Commissioner of Connecticut to care: he was co-founder of one of the state’s most segregated charter chains.

Charter founders think they are advancing civil rights by creating segregated schools but that turns history on its head, Lecker writes:

“As the Voices report notes, the practices engaged in by charter schools and condoned by the state reveal a troubling approach to choice. For them, choice is about advancing the individual interests of families, rather than any broad community wide educational goals; such as desegregation. The authors found that when individual interests are the goal of choice, then choice policies undermine the goal of equitable educational opportunity for all students.

“The idea of equity for all was the driving force behind the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr. declared that “I am never what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.”Lyndon Johnson’s motto was “doing the greatest good for the greatest number.”

“The principles of communal good underpinned Connecticut’s commitment to school integration. Connecticut’s Supreme Court deemed that having children of different backgrounds learn together is vital “to gain the understanding and mutual respect necessary for the cohesion of our society.” The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall maintained: “Unless our children learn together, there is little hope that our people will learn to live together.”

The charters have a peculiar idea of civil rights, one that does not reflect the views of Dr. King or Justice Marshall:

“Choice as practiced by charter schools perverts the notion of integration. In its annual report, under the goal of reducing racial isolation and increasing racial and ethnic diversity, Achievement First Bridgeport wrote that the school’s “African-American, Hispanic and low-income students will outperform African-American, Hispanic and low-income students in their host district and state-wide, reducing racial, ethnic and economic isolation among these historically underserved subgroups.”
“Achievement First defines integration as children of color getting better standardized test scores. Justice Marshall must be spinning in his grave.”

In the eyes of charter leaders, higher test scores–achieved by pushing out or excluding low-performing students–trumps integration.