[lg policy] Colorado: Loaded language and questionable data

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Feb 17 17:50:16 UTC 2010

Loaded language and questionable data
Posted by Jim Griffin Feb 16th, 2010.
Editor’s note: Jim Griffin is president of the Colorado League of
Charter Schools

In the recent EdNews blog post, Charters and demographic
stratification, Kevin Welner points out a new study from CU-Boulder
that compares the demographics of schools operated by Education
Management Organizations (EMOs) with their local school districts. The
report claims findings of “extensive” segregation in these schools.

First, the Colorado League of Charter Schools takes issue with the use
of the term “segregation” when referring to school choice. Segregation
is a toxic term associated with governmentally sanctioned, “forced”
segregation of another era. The segregation that occurred in our
nation’s past was deliberate policy designed to limit public school
access. By contrast, charter schools and public school choice provide
parents and children an opportunity to increase educational
opportunities that have been traditionally unavailable.

Second, the League put the CU-Boulder data to the test by performing
its own informal study. We compared EMO-managed charter schools in
Colorado with similar, non-charter, neighborhood schools, and with the

After backing out online charters, and one operated out of a
correctional facility, our data relates to five (5) EMOs and twelve
(12) charter schools across multiple districts and communities. Some
of these neighborhoods are high minority and low income, while others
more white and middle class. In the end, the data contradicts the
study’s claim of “extensive” segregation. On the contrary, it reveals
that Colorado’s EMO-managed charter schools look more like the
district than the neighborhood schools with respect to the percent of
minority students they serve.

Parents are demanding higher-quality public school options for their
children and rightfully so. Just last week, the Denver Post revealed
that of the Colorado students who graduate high school and go onto
college, nearly one in three require remedial classes. This doesn’t
even touch on the numerous other students (many of whom are
minorities) who fall through the system completely and drop out. This
is exactly why Colorado charter schools got in the business of
providing ALL students, regardless of race or any other factor, a
chance at a better education and a better life.

Over the past 16 years, charter schools have proven that there is
another option when it comes to public education. Charters have
created choice and competition in the public school market – and are
showing positive results. Unfortunately, naysayers who want public
education to remain exclusively in the hands of those currently
operating the system – the status quo–pull out all the stops when
trying to convince the public to steer away from better school options
for their students, even if it means using emotionally charged terms
such as “segregation.”

As Americans we demand choice and snub monopolies when it comes to
selecting doctors, automobiles, and grocery stores. Yet when we want
to shop for the best public school option for our children – we are
criticized. To insinuate that minorities should pass up quality
education options for their children if a school’s demographics are
too black or too white sounds like some confused priorities.


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