Friday, April 30, 2010

UCLA report

Nice to see another rebuttal to the completely wrong-headed UCLA study on supposed charter school segregation, which I slammed in Feb (


The Civil Rights Project at UCLA is out with a report blasting charter schools for being segregated.  I don't know whether to laugh or cry.  OF COURSE they're segregated – because most of them seek to serve students being failed the most by regular public schools – and guess what: most of these students are minority!  As Joe Williams and DFER note: "The UCLA Civil Rights Project seemingly wants to block minority parents from choosing to enroll their children in better schools simply because it feels those schools aren't white enough. What's up with that?"

Imagine if charter schools instead were disproportionately NOT minority (which, as James Forman points out below, was in fact the concern in the early days of charter schools) – then these nitwits would be blasting them for creaming.  If I read another study or article by clueless, out-of-touch-with-reality, knuckleheads in ivory towers, I'm gonna scream!

Below is what I posted on my blog in Oct. 2007 on this topic, and here's an excerpt:

Nelson Smith ( and James Forman blasted it as well (


Here's the press release:


Hoover Institution/Education Next News Release
For Immediate Release: April 27, 2010
 Contact: Gary Ritter, University of Arkansas,, 479-575-4971
Brian Kisida, Nathan Jensen, Joshua McGee, University of  Arkansas, 479-575-3172

Charter Schools, Traditional Public Schools Similarly  Segregated

Flawed comparisons lead Civil Rights Project to  unwarranted conclusions

STANFORD -- New research conducted by Gary Ritter and  associates at the University of Arkansas finds that the charter sector and the  traditional public-school sector are not very different in the level of  segregation experienced by students. The research is published in "A Closer  Look at Charter Schools and Segregation <> ," which will appear in the Summer 2010  issue of Education Next and is now available online.

The new findings contradict the conclusions drawn by the  authors of a study released in January 2010 by the UCLA-based Civil Rights  Project (CRP). The authors of the CRP study, "Choice without Equity," concluded  that charter schools are much more segregated than traditional public schools.  Ritter finds that "when examined more appropriately, the data actually reveal  small differences in the level of overall segregation between the charter  school sector and the traditional public-school sector."

The basic flaw in the CRP study is that it compares the  racial composition of charter schools, which tend to be located in inner cities,  with that of traditional public schools, which are located in all different  kinds of environments. "Based only on enrollments aggregated to the national  and state level, the authors repeatedly highlight the overrepresentation of  black students in charter schools in an attempt to portray a harmful degree of  segregation," co-author Brian Kisida explains. "This comparison is likely to  generate misleading conclusions for one simple reason, as the authors  themselves point out…  'the concentration  of charter schools in urban areas skews the charter school enrollment towards  having higher percentages of poor and minority students.'"

Ritter continues, "Instead of asking whether all students in  charter schools are more likely to attend segregated schools than are all  students in traditional public schools, we should be comparing the levels of  segregation for the students in charter schools to what they would have  experienced had they remained in their residentially assigned public schools."

The CRP report includes an analysis of whether charter or  traditional schools are more segregated within 39 metropolitan areas, however,  the analysis does not take into account the fact that charter schools are  disproportionately located in low-SES urban areas within those metropolitan  areas.

The authors of the new study modified the analysis conducted  by the CRP so that the percentage of students in segregated charter schools in  just the central city would be compared to the percentage of students in  segregated traditional public schools within the same central city for 8 large  metropolitan areas. The results confirm that the Civil Rights Project's report  overstates the relative level of segregation in the charter sector.

For example, the Civil Rights Project reports that, in the  metropolitan area surrounding the District of Columbia, 91.2 percent of charter  students are in segregated schools, compared with just 20.9 percent of students  in traditional public schools. However, the reanalysis shows that, if the  comparison is restricted to students in the central city, the percentage of  charter students attending segregated schools stays roughly the same, but the  percentage of students attending segregated traditional public schools jumps to  85 percent.

After re-analyzing the data for all 39 metropolitan areas,  the authors of the re-analysis conclude, "Using the best available unit of  comparison, we find that 63 percent of charter students in these central cities  attend school in intensely segregated minority schools, as do 53 percent of  traditional public school students."   They note that this re-analysis likely underestimates the true levels of  segregation in the traditional public schools that the charter school students  would otherwise attend because, even within central cities, charter schools are  more likely to open in neighborhoods that are more segregated.

Please read "A Closer Look at Charter Schools and  Segregation: Flawed comparisons lead to overstated conclusions <> ," by Gary  Ritter, Nathan Jensen, Brian Kisida, and Joshua McGee, available online at <> .

Gary Ritter is professor of education policy  at the University of Arkansas.  Nathan  Jensen, Brian Kisida, and Joshua McGee are research associates in the Department  of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas.

Education Next is a  scholarly journal published by the Hoover Institution that is committed to  looking at hard facts about school reform. Other sponsoring institutions are  the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance and the Thomas B.  Fordham Foundation.

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