Charters & Choice News Roundup: School Choice and Students of Color

By Arianna Prothero — February 20, 2015 1 min read
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This week on the Charters & Choice news roundup, I’m featuring a couple of stories that examine, at least in part, the growing number of minority students in home school and private schools.

The first story, from the Hechinger Report’s Jessica Huseman, discusses the reasons why more black parents are choosing to educate their children at home:

Marvell [Robinson] is one of an estimated 220,000 African-American children currently being homeschooled, according to the National Home Education Research Institute. Black families have become one of the fastest-growing demographics in homeschooling, with black students making up an estimated 10 percent of the homeschooling population. They make up 16 percent of public school students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics."

Two sides of the coin... Does embracing diversity also require a school-wide soul searching examination of white privilege? School leaders in several elite New York City private schools think so, and that belief is informing new diversity initiatives. As this New York Times article explains, not only are general attitudes toward race and diversity changing, so are private school populations:

For most of their history, private schools were the living embodiment of white privilege: They were almost all white and mostly moneyed. Not anymore. This year, according to the National Association of Independent Schools, minority students make up a third of the population of New York City private schools, and 18.5 percent of all students receive financial aid."

Why the change? Well, the article by Kyle Spencer explores many reasons, but this explanation from diversity consultant Derrick Gay was, I thought, one of the most interesting:

Mr. Gay, who is black, says schools are increasingly drawn to conversations about privilege and race because they understand that 'raising students to live in a bubble—a white bubble, a black bubble, a Latino bubble, whatever type of bubble you want to call it— is not to your benefit in a global society.' "

Who’s overseeing the overseers? Pro Publica puts charter school oversight back in the spotlight in this story featuring a charter school authorizer in Minnesota, a nonprofit animal sanctuary that also oversees 32 charter schools:

But many of these gatekeepers are woefully inexperienced, under-resourced, confused about their mission or even compromised by conflicts of interest. And while some charter schools are overseen by state education agencies or school districts, others are regulated by entities for which overseeing charters is a side job, such as private colleges and nonprofits like the Audubon wildlife rehabilitation center."

Although, many advocates for better charter school authorizing often lump most school districts in the latter group. And to be clear, this article by Marian Wang is not an exposé of authorizing practices at the Audubon center in Minnesota—it’s an examination of the issues undermining quality charter school authorizing in general. You can read the full article here.

On the move... The Tennessee state director for Black Alliance for Educational Options, Jennifer Littlejohn, has resigned to focus on her own Memphis-based public strategies firm, according to Chalkbeat Tennessee.

And, the executive director of Friends of Choice in Urban Schools in Washington, D.C., Robert Cane, is also stepping down, according to the Washington Post. The Post reports Cane is resigning in order to move closer to family in Nevada.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.