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Dispelling the Myth of “White Flight”:An Examination of Minority Enrollment in Charter Schools

Dispelling the Myth of “White Flight”:An Examination of Minority Enrollment in Charter Schools

Abstract

At the outset of the charter school movement, some opponents feared that charter schools would become havens for White students wishing to flee the traditional public school system, resulting in publicly funded segregation. However, studies suggest that this has not occurred. In fact, charter schools on average remain slightly racially segregated, enrolling more minority students than traditional public schools. Segregation in charter schools is not unavoidable considering that they often can exercise more control of student body composition through recruitment measures. This article examines the current racial makeup of charter schools by reporting student body diversity data in the 32 states that enroll more than 1,000 students in charter schools (as of 2002-2003). Additionally, the impact of parental choice, the lifting of desegregation decrees, and state statutory language on the racial composition of charter schools is discussed. Finally, the authors offer recommendations for combating segregation in charter schools and discuss avenues for future research.
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