Century Foundation Releases First-Ever Inventory on Charter School Diversity

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Century Foundation Releases First-Ever Inventory on Charter School Diversity

In San Diego, a former carpentry teacher imagined a high school where students of all backgrounds and abilities would engage in project-based learning without academic tracking. In New Orleans, a group of parents concerned about the shuttering of their local school after Hurricane Katrina rallied together to create a new school that would reflect the diversity of their racially and economically mixed neighborhood. In Rhode Island, the mayor of an affluent suburb led the charge for a new regional school model that would allow children from his community of Cumberland and those from the bankrupt city of Central Falls to go to school together. These educators, parents, and policymakers all helped to open charter schools, and at the center of the creation of each of these schools was a shared vision: to use the flexibility of the charter model to incorporate diversity into the design of a school.

This report represents the first systematic effort to identify diverse-by-design charter schools and characterize the role of student diversity in school mission and design across the charter sector more generally. Based on an analysis using three different factors—racial and socioeconomic demographics of schools, school leader responses on a survey, and analysis of charter schools’ websites—this report identifies 125 intentionally diverse charter schools. Although they represent a small slice of the charter school sector, data suggests that the number of diverse-by-design charter schools is growing. These schools offer important insights into how the charter school model can help promote school integration...

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