In 2009 I posted this article understanding that charter schools would have the pernicious effect of using identity, religious and ethnic tribalism, race, class and gender to cement the popularity of the publicly subsidized and privately run ‘charters’ in the minds of a deracinated public that fails to think democratically or understand the role of education, how it is orchestrated, subsidized and basically how it is managed.

Charters are perfect vehicles for the ruling class for they appeal to the “American Exceptionalism” we hear about all the time — insipid individualism, go-it-alone capitalism, Iive got mine, you get yours, and the other moral debasement that is promoted by a system of economics that reduces human potential to a bargain sale for greed.

This is not surprising.  The corporate press rarely covers school issues with any dignity or integrity other than to bash public schools for their ‘inadequacy’ while promoting privatization, ‘false choices’ and educational financialization schemes they tell us are in the interest of our children when in fact they are undermining childhood and transforming it into a gold vein for prospecting purposes.

The hucksters and hustlers who sold charters to an unsuspecting public did so using the ‘fear of competition’ (you’re kid will not get ahead of the next kid) but also, using an appeal to unenlightened self-interests — the alienated American looking backwards in evolution in an attempt to find some post-modern tribalism to make up for a world of slavish disparagment and awful social and economic policies designed to enslave humanity.

CBS reporter Leslie Stahl of CBS recently did an interview with Gulen, of Fethullah Gulen Charter Schools http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l24bCOKXg08.  The Gulen schools have been the topic of much controversy, and rightly so, recently and it is for this reason I wanted to republish the piece I had written back at the end of 2009 when charter schools were the public policy rational of the day.  Then, as now, they were touted as a way of advancing monocultures of segregated communities in the interest of ‘choice’ and respect for diversity.

Now, with charters having worked well as a Trojan horse for privatization efforts and the corporatization of education, the hideous school vouchers (the real agenda) are appearing in New Orleans and other places that charters have opened the soft market of despotism.  Romney embraces them under the canopy of false consicousness and false chsoice.

The rise of the Gulen schools are not simply troubling for their emphasis on Gulen ideology which readers can evaluate for themselves; they are dangerous in so far as they represent the decomposition and fragmentation of America as more and more people look for public policy and private enclaves that will allow them to divorce themselves from American life in search of their own “identify” or modern form of tribalism.  Pulling out of society has been seen in the rise of homeschooling and de-schooling but this new social policy of allowing fof ethnic and identity, gender and race based charters is new.  This is the new voluntary segregation — the atomism of America come home to roost; the disassembling of community in favor of a world of hand to hand combat and brutish indifference.

Rancid Individualism and the morality of ‘selfishness as a virtue

Ironically, before Noam Chomsky spoke of the manufacture of consent, (actually a term coined by Walter Lippmann (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Lippmann), Alexis de Tocqueville, as quoted in Democracy in America. Editor: J. P. Mayer. Translation: George Lawrence. New York: Anchor, 1969, noted in 1835 about American life the same thing:

“…I see an innumerable multitude of men, alike and equal, constantly circling around in pursuit of the petty and banal pleasures with which they glut their souls. Each of them withdrawn into himself, is almost unaware of the fate of the rest. Mankind, for him, consists in his children and his personal friends. As for the rest of his fellow citizens, they are near enough, but he does not notice them. He touches them but feels nothing. He exists in and for himself, and though he still may have a family, one can at least say that he has not got a fatherland” (pp. 692)

He goes on, pausing to critically think through the world of managed perceptions, the interior of Plato’s Cave:

“an immense tutelary power [which] extends its arms about the society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of petty regulations. . . It does not break wills; it softens them, bends them, and directs them…; it does not tyrannize, it gets in the way, it curtails, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupefies, and finally it reduces each nation to nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd (ibid).

Tocqueville was describing what he saw as the limitations of individualism devoid of individuality.  The Ayn Rand creed that selfishness is a virtue and that we are really just little rational, individual profit maximizers operating under the chloroform of comercialism so we can aquire more as an expression of wealth.

How prescient Tocqueville actually was 177 years ago when he wrote these words.  If this was written about Tacitus of the first century A.C.E. Rome or Caligula later, we could sense and identify with the tone of utter alienation and deplorable despair that underlies his words like a haunting melody. We would be able to recognize what author Edward Gibbon firmly understood as the putrid symptoms of a republic under a thoroughly decadent despotism, both in material life, cultural life and ideological temperament, management and debasement of false consciousness.

The words ring bells today in ways that only Tocqueville could have inferred back in the early America of 1835.  Edward Gibbon, writing about the rise and fall of the Roman empire back in the third quarter of the 1700’s, noted when he spoke of the fall of Rome that it was more surprising that it lasted as long as it did than that it actually fell.  Here are his words when speaking of just one reason for the fall of the Roman Empire:

“The decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the cause of the destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and, as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. The story of the ruin is simple and obvious: and instead of inquiring why the Roman Empire was destroyed we should rather be surprised that it has subsisted for so long.” [Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 2nd ed., vol. 4, ed. by J. B. Bury (London, 1909), pp. 173-174.]

America, according to author Morris Berman, in his new book, “Why America Failed (2012),  is a “hustler society”.  It always has been.  Now it is even more dangerous as its own hyperbolic individualism narcissm, and hubris threatens to tear asunder the moral fabric of the nation from the inside out, pitting people against each other in  hand to hand combat, the divide and conquer the ruling class uses to gain power, keep it and then manage it.

But this should be not surprise.  American capitalism is a system of what Freud never called, but what was referred to as, “Thanatos” who in Greek mythology was the daemon personification of death”.

The rise of the Gulen school, though important to understand in and of itself, is even more essential to understand as the result of a public policy and in the rise of American alienation, neo-tribalism, insipid and death embracing individualism laced to a shallow self-practicality and superficial short term thinking.

In short, it is the society Gibbon spoke of when analyzing Rome and the surprise should not be that a culture created by pathological social and economic policies is a dying culture; no, the surprise should be that Americans, so dispossessed, so isolated, so alienated and yes, so ignorant and marginalized would allow a sociopathic ruling class to manufacture the wooden coffin-like labyrinths we call schools.

 

Posted by: Posted date: November 25, 2009

In a study of ethnic and  class stratification in fifty-five urban and fifty-seven rural charter schools  in Arizona  done for the Education Policy Analysis, a nonprofit think-tank some ten years  ago, researchers noted that nearly half the charter schools studied exhibited  evidence of substantial ethnic separation (Cobb and Glass 1999, 1). They  concluded that subtle exclusionary practices among charter schools, including  initial parent contacts and the provision of transportation, had an appreciable  affect on ethnic and racial segregation in charter  schools:

The  ethnic separation on the part of  Arizona ’s charter schools, though de facto, is  an insidious by-product of unregulated school choice. If parents can choose  where to send their children to school, they are likely to choose schools with  students of similar orientations to their own. Moreover, it is well documented  that choices (in this case, charter students and parents) differ from  non-choices in several meaningful ways, which further contributes to the  stratification of students along ethnic and socioeconomic lines. (Cobb and Glass  1999, 1)

In North Carolina, when the state legislators years ago were debating  charter schools it was feared there would be a recurrence of the flight of white  academies that had been a historical part of the South a generation earlier in  the aftermath of the Brown decision.  In approving the charter idea, the legislators put a clause in the legislation  that required the schools to reasonably reflect the demographics of the school  districts they serve. Yet two years after passage of the legislation, twenty-two  of the state’s charter schools appeared to violate the diversity clause (Dent  1998). The irony lies in the fact that the law is being violated by charter  schools that are 85 percent black and populated by children whose parents sought  to flee the failing public schools.

The charter school movement is having the effect of re-segregating  schools in North  Carolina , and thus they pose a legal and social dilemma.  Many policymakers are asking how, if the charter school movement is really going  to be a public choice reform, can that be accomplished without re-segregating  schools?  Or can it? And where  charter schools are located in predominantly black neighborhoods, how can they  be centers for diversity if few white parents want to send their children to  schools located in those neighborhoods?   So aren’t the charter schools charlatans and their well-heeled supporters  really targeting inner city kids, the ‘sub-prime’ kids?  After all it is a volumes game, isn’t it  and as all good marketers know cornering the market is what it is all  about.  So, much like Pay Day loans  charters appear to be a part and parcel of what was once called a ‘fringe  economy’ but is now the economy.

How Charters Increase  Racial and Ethnic Stratification

Racial and ethnic segregation and stratification can happen subtly: in  the way the schools are organized, how they state their mission, and the symbols  and signifiers they use to attract students. For example, in a suburban charter  school in  California , the founders created a high-tech  image and orientation for the school. This emphasis permitted marketing  strategies to attract students whose parents worked in the technology industry,  which, in turn, resulted in the procurement of more computers and software for  the school through grants and donations. So you wouldn’t see their  advertisements on buses in inner city urban areas, for they marketed to a  different, more elite crowd.   Creating an ideological mission for the school along with the symbols of  technology and computer literacy meant that this charter school could subtly  give the message of who belongs at the school—who will fit in and who will not  (Wells et al. 1999, 22).  And this  is the point, it is a form of gentrification and social dislocation as the  isnispidd individualism rampant in the caverns of the American mind looks for  simplistic individual solutions to social problems and this causes social  breakdown, dis-association.

In a recent report  entitled ‘False Promises’, published  by The  Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota (ironically the  state where the charter school movement was first launched), the study found  through an exhaustive examination and thorough study that charters in the Twin  Cities not only continue to perform worse than traditional public schools, but  that they are more segregated than traditional public schools and are forcing  those traditional public schools themselves to become more segregated.  Why?  A purview of the report, released in  November of 2008, is enthusiastically unhesitant in its portrayal of the growing  problem of increased segregation and the assumed accompanying issues of  underachievement:

Charter school proponents promoted charter schools as a  means to improve the performance of students who would otherwise have no choice  but to attend failing traditional public schools. They claimed that families of  means always had school choice—they had the financial resources to either send  their children to private schools or to move to better neighborhoods with higher  quality public schools. Advocates of charter schools promised that charter  schools would extend the same school choice to low income parents and parents of  color, who were stranded in low-performing traditional public schools. They  further pledged that by severing the link between segregated neighborhoods and  segregated schools, charter schools would liberate low-income parents of color  from the racially segregated traditional public schools they attended. Overall,  they claimed that charters would promote a race to the top for all parties that  were involved.

This study finds that in  Minnesota charter schools failed to deliver  the promises made by charter school proponents. Despite nearly two decades of  experience, charter schools in  Minnesota still perform worse on average than  comparable traditional public schools. Although a few charter schools perform  well, most offer low income parents and parents of color an inferior choice—a  choice between low-performing traditional public schools and charter schools  that perform even worse. The study finds that other public school choice  programs such as The Choice is Yours Program offer access to much better schools  than the charter schools in  Minnesota .

The  analysis also shows that charter schools have intensified racial and economic  segregation in Twin Cities schools. A geographical analysis shows that the  racial makeups of charter schools mimic the racial composition of the  neighborhoods where they are located. This contrasts sharply with the claim that  charter schools would sever the link between segregated neighborhoods and  schools. On the contrary, the data show that charter schools are segregating  students of color in non-white segregated schools that are even more segregated  than the already highly-segregated traditional public schools. In some  predominantly white urban and suburban neighborhoods, charter schools also serve  as outlets for white flight from traditional public schools that are racially  more diverse than their feeder neighborhoods (False Promises: Assessing Charter  Schools in Twin Cities  Institute on  Race and Policy website 2008).

November http://minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2008/11/26_charter_school/charterreport.pdf

The report also looked  at Twin Cities school racial make-ups, and it includes a map that plots out all  the metro area charter schools.  It  clearly shows demographically that segregated schools far outnumber integrated  schools and in some cases, predominately white schools are surrounded by a moat  of predominately non-white schools (ibid).   You can go online and see the map at the website  above.

The  Evidence for Segregation by Charter more Norm than  Aberration

Unfortunately this  empirical evidence of segregation is more norm than aberration.  In their comprehensive study, Charter  Schools and Race: A Lost Opportunity for Integrated Education, Erica Frankenberg and Lee Chungmei, both of  Harvard  University , evidenced the same troubling  patterns found by The  Institute on Race and Poverty report: Segregation is worse for African American than for Latino  students, but is very high for both. In some states, white student isolation in  charter schools is as high as that of African Americans. The problems reported  here may not be due either to the intent or the desires and values of charter  school leaders. They may reflect flaws in state policies, in enforcement, in  methods of approving schools for charters, or the location where charter schools  are set up (Frankenberg and Lee 2003).

Charter schools and race: A lost opportunity for  integrated education. Education Policy Analysis Archives,  11(32).

In 2003, the Delaware  State Board of Education and Delaware Department of Education hired an   Evaluation  Center from  Arizona State   University to assess the  state’s charter schools and charter school reform efforts from 2003 to  2006.  The report was presented to  the Delaware State Board of Education by Dr. Gary Miron, the  Evaluation  Center ‘s chief of staff and the study’s project  director at  Arizona State   University .  In addition to Miron, Anne Cullen and  Patricia Farrell, also of the Evaluation Center, and Dr. Brooks Applegate, West  Michigan University’s professor of educational leadership, collaborated on the  project and jointly authored the 226-page report.  The final report, issued after a  three-year, $150,000 evaluation of Delaware ‘s  charter school movement, summarizes findings across the  Delaware charter schools.  The report concludes that the charter schools have resulted in re-segregation  and disparities between mostly white and mostly minority charter schools.  The study goes even further, stating  it:

found  “substantial differences in student demographics,” both among charter schools  and also between charter schools and surrounding traditional public schools. On  the whole, the study finds that traditional public schools have higher  percentages of low-income students, students with special education needs and  students who have limited English proficiency (WMN website  2007).

(http://www.wmich.edu/wmu/news/2007/04/014.html Some Delaware charter schools segregated, unequal April 4, 2007 WMU  News Office of University Relations Western Michigan  University.

Even more recently, in a report in the Educational Resource Information  Center (ERIC) entitled Are Charter  Schools More Racially Segregated Than Traditional Public Schools?, published  in 2007, author Yongmei In made several key findings from her analysis of the  Michigan charter school experiment.   She summarizes her findings:

(1)Although charter school students were more racially  diverse at the state level than those in Michigan’s traditional public schools,  not all charter schools are more diverse; (2) Depending on where their students  come from, charter schools had very different effects on racial segregation.  Charter schools drawing students mainly from the districts in which they are  located tended to be more racially segregated than their host districts, while  charter schools drawing students from outside the host districts show some  positive evidence toward racial integration; and (3) The effects of charter  schools on racial segregation vary across districts depending upon their degree  of racial segregation. While charter schools drawing students from segregated  districts show no further racial segregation, charter schools drawing students  from racially diverse districts are more segregated than these districts (In,  ERIC website 2007).

(Are Charter Schools More  Racially Segregated Than Traditional Public Schools? Policy Report 30.  2007-03-00 ERIC http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/Home.portal?_nfpb=true&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED430323&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&_pageLabel=RecordDetails&accno=ED498628&_nfls=false&objectId=0900019b80201c86

She concludes that if diversity in charter schools is an important goal  for policymakers, the state legislature and charter school authorizers could  encourage charter schools to adopt racial integration as a major goal of their  recruitment process.  But it seems  it is not a goal of the enlightened politicians.  Money is the goal, profiting off kids is  the means.

In their 2007 granular examination of segregation and the impact of  charter schools, Suzanne Eckes and Kelly Rapp, in a report entitled Dispelling the Myth of “White Flight”: An  Examination of Minority Enrollment in Charter Schools, examined data of  reported student body diversity in the 32 states that enroll more than 1,000  students in charter schools (as of 2002-2003).  They came up with the following  finding:

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 (Eckes and Rapp 2007).

Eckes, Suzanne E. Educational Policy, v21 n4 p615-661  2007  http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/Home.portal?_nfpb=true&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED430323&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&_pageLabel=RecordDetails&accno=EJ772715&_nfls=false&objectId=0900019b80189026).

The  authors continue, arguing:

Segregation in charter schools is not unavoidable  considering that they often can exercise more control of student body  composition through recruitment measures.  (ibid)

The article details a  disappointing set of findings regarding its central question — namely, that  charter schools are largely more segregated than public schools and segregation  is much worse for African American than for Latino students.  But this makes sense, first of all  America is a segregated country and second of all, capital seeks customers and  where can they find the most, large urban areas where disenfranchised youth sit  idly in public schools that could be charterized.  According to the study, in some states  white student isolation in charter schools is as high as that of African  Americans.  Going on, the authors  note:

The justification for segregated schools as places of opportunity is  basically a “separate but equal” justification, an argument that there is  something about the schools that can and does overcome the normal pattern of  educational inequality that afflicts many of these schools. Charter school  advocates continually assert such advantages and often point to the strong  demand for the schools by minority parents in minority communities, including  schools that are designed specifically to serve a minority population. It is  certainly true that minority parents are actively seeking alternatives to  segregated, concentrated poverty, and low-achieving public schools. White  parents have also shown strong interest in educational alternatives as evidenced  by the strong demand for magnet schools (ibid).

Voluntary Segregation from the Public  Realm

Yet as Chungmei Lee and Erica Frankenberg argue, the high level of racial  segregation in charter schools is really not a big surprise when viewed in light  of the existing segregation in many aspects of American life.  Nor is their argument regarding  re-segregation something to be taken lightly.  They go on to claim that those who think  that charter schools are inherently likely to be free of racial inequality need  to reflect on the racial consequences of other market based approaches to life  operating in such areas as housing, employment, health care, the provision of  public transportation, opportunity and availability of health care, climbing  prison populations, percentage of foreclosures and home ownership and the list  could go on. Here, it can be argued, as both Harvard professors do, that markets  have worked more to perpetuate and spread racial inequality rather than to  confront it and cure it.   From  the authors’ point of view:

One  could accurately say that the normal outcome of markets when applied to a  racially stratified society is a perpetuation of racial stratification. This is  why early educational choice programs were often found to produce white flight  from integrated schools and to contribute to segregation in many school  desegregation trials. Those experiences were apparently unknown or overlooked by  designers and supporters of many charter school policies  (ibid).

Many parents and their political constituencies, from home-schoolers  preferring to segregate from the public forum altogether, to religious and  ethnic advocates for charter schools there is a increased mobilization to use  charter schools and charter school legislation as a means to actually  voluntarily segregate from others in the public realm, either by gender, race,  religion, cultural or ethnic focus.

Take for example, the passage of a bill in January of 2008 changing   Delaware ‘s  charter school law to allow single-gender schools.  The bill was passed in the state House,  with legislators reaching a compromise to assure it provides equal protection  and would not be vulnerable to constitutional challenge.  The bill sailed on through the  legislature to eventually achieve passage in the senate, despite some  opposition. Delaware Rep. Diana McWilliams, D-Fox Point,  questioned:

“I  am very concerned that this be a very slippery slope back to segregated  schools.”

She  wondered aloud why “segregation of a gender” is a good thing.  The bill’s passage clears the path for a  middle school targeting at-risk boys (Kenney and Miller  2008).

(http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080123/NEWS/801230363/1006/NEWS Charter  gender bill OK’d in House Legislation  would allow all-boys, all-girls options By EDWARD L. KENNEY and J.L.  MILLER • The News Journal • January 23, 2008

The New ‘Identity  Charters’: More Voluntary Segregation

Tarek ibn Ziyad  Academy charter school is located in  Minnesota and has mostly Muslim students. In  fact,  Minnesota has many ethnically focused or  culturally focused charter schools, servicing not just Muslim students but also  Christians and Hmong students.  The  rational for such segregated schools can be best summed up by the director of  the Hmong charter school in  Minnesota , who  commented:

Yes, with our focus on  culture, language and achievement, we create an environment with a sense of  community, of trust, of respect, of valuing education. I’ve worked in the big  traditional schools, and that same sense is not there for many of our families.  Our kids and parents feel welcome because they see the displays of their culture  and values of respect, responsibility. They see staff people who look like them.  I’m Hmong; they can relate to me. It makes a huge difference. In this  environment, give them time and kids achieve. Our school is making AYP [annual  yearly progress, a reporting measure required by federal No Child Left Behind  rules], and we had no discipline problems at all last year. How many schools can  say that?  Yes, with our focus on  culture, language and achievement, we create an environment with a sense of  community, of trust, of respect, of valuing education. I’ve worked in the big  traditional schools, and that same sense is not there for many of our families.  Our kids and parents feel welcome because they see the displays of their culture  and values of respect, responsibility. They see staff people who look like them.  I’m Hmong; they can relate to me. It makes a huge difference. In this  environment, give them time and kids achieve. (False Promises website 2008) November  2008).

Re-segregation or voluntary segregation within and by charter schools  continues to grow, as can be seen by an examination of the The Urban Prep  Charter Academy for Young Men, located in Chicago and Ben Gamla Charter in   New York , as  discussed in chapter four.  Now,  with the controversial opening of the Ben Gamla Charter School, by its parent  company, Academica, Inc., the trend  currently seems to be the exercise of legislative leniency on behalf of law  makers, politicians and charter school authorizers to the idea of religiously  oriented charter schools, gender oriented charter schools, ‘class’ oriented’  charter schools and ethnically or culturally focused charter  schools.

Take for example the state of  Rhode Island .  Pressed by the Governor, education  officials agreed in early 2009 to change the way they approve applications to  open public charter schools, giving a higher priority to proposals that serve  low-income and disadvantaged students in low-performing school districts.  By ‘courting’ charter schools as an  answer to low income student achievement rather than working to strengthen  existing TPS isn’t the Governor of the state further stratifying the school  system by social class?  In other  words, wouldn’t this be the same thing as having one side of a traditional  public school classroom set up for one social class, divided by a large panel  and another side set up for middle and upper social classes?  Not according to officials from   Rhode Island  who agreed to change the way they approve applications to open public charter  schools, giving a higher priority to proposals that serve low-income and  disadvantaged students in low-performing school districts.  To do this the Governor of the state  proposed a budget that sets aside $1.5 million for new charter schools in the  2009-10 school year.  Yet, argue  opponents of the idea, isn’t this am example of the state subsidizing class  stratification? (Jordan 2009).  Sure  it is, it is neo-liberal economics socially engineering the state of schools and  thus the states of mind that will dialectically parallel them.  The politicians pass the laws the market  needs, the privateers do the rest.   Then the ideological hustlers sell it to an information starved public  satiated on Cheaters and American Most Wanted.

(http://www.projo.com/news/content/charter_school_criteria_change_04-30-09_LPE78_v20.36ab0dc.html State wants new charter schools to serve low  income Thursday, April 30,  2009 By Jennifer D.  Jordan Journal Staff  Writer   PROVIDENCE

In fact, serving  low-income students is now one of the growing missions and reflects the  realities of many charter schools set up for specifically this purpose.  Where once the practice of ‘creaming’  the best students concerned those opposed to the development of charter schools  – ‘creaming’ meaning charters would take only the best academically qualified or  prepared students –  the continued  development of the charter school concept has now extended to serving  particularly ‘low income and low performing’ students.  One can argue, and many proponents of  the idea like the Governor of Rhode Island do, that this effort is a worthwhile  attempt to reach students who are low income and low-performing academically in  traditional public schools.    The notion of a charter school actually saving struggling groups of low  income students has become an all too familiar theme among politicians, as  evidenced by Rhode Island’s recent decision and the explosion of hundreds of  charter schools seeking to serve low income students; and this has become  especially alluring to low income parents who argue their children are caught in  a vicious cycle in TPS.

The  Real Issue Is Capitalism and the ravages for the many

But opponents to such an idea would argue that politicians, business  interests and Departments of Education throughout the states that have  legislated charter schools are really playing a shell game with the American  people and not broaching the real problem that plagues society and schools. They  argue that not only will charter schools not solve the problem of failing  schools, but that they serve to stratify citizens along racial, ethnic, and  social class.  The real answer, echo  these opponents, is full funding for all public schools for the decades of  proven methods of educational reform: smaller class size, smaller schools,  comprehensive pre-school for three- and four-year-olds, after-school and  in-school tutoring and enrichment programs and mentoring for those who need  them, state-of-the-art school buildings equipped with updated books, materials,  equipment, technology and caring, well-trained educators who have the needed  experience for the job are also needed.   Furthermore societal poverty, not  to mention the fact that one out of every fifty children in the  US is  homeless, simply does not support the academic development of children and thus  issues of economic equity and economic policies that encourage the eradication  of social poverty must be faced when confronting public education reform (Kozol,  2006).

What does support academic development of children, argue opponents to  the idea of class or race based segregated charter schools, are decent living  wage jobs, available health care, senior care, day care and affordable housing  along with full access to public transportation.  These are all part of the kind of  sustainable environment that would support a positive family life and the  cognitive development of all children.   Arguing that public schools need to transform into charter schools that  target low income students (usually of color) to be innovative and creative, is  a red herring.   After all,  doesn’t public education works in many suburbs throughout the nation without any  problems?  And if it does, then it  begs the question as to why we need special segregated enclaves for less  fortunate students, again usually students of color.  Why can’t a decent, quality public  education be the right of every citizen regardless of socio-economic class,  race, gender or ethnicity and not simply the privilege of the wealthy?  One cannot help but see the similarities  behind calls to help ‘low income’ students through charter schools and the  sub-prime housing loans directed at the ‘low-income’ wage earners.  Eyeing the ‘low charter school income  market’ or subprime loan market seems to have paid out handsomely for the many  investors and business interests involved.   But what about students and their  parents?

Resegregation: Loss of Civil  Life?

The notion of segregation by class, race, ethnicity, or gender is all  very disturbing to many progressive educators who argue that religious, gender  and racial segregation (not to mention virtual segregation by ‘virtual  charters’) can only serve to damage pluralism and diversity in education.  This, they say, not only flies in face  of the Brown vs. Board of Education court decision but vitiates the hundred of  millions, if not billions of dollars and hard work spent by the states  historically to desegregate schools and depressingly harkens back to an ideology  of ‘separate but equal’.  Perhaps  Erica Frankenberg and Chungmei Lee, both from  Harvard  University , put their finger on the  problem when they write: The justification for segregated schools as places of  opportunity is basically a “separate but equal” justification, an argument that  there is something about the schools that can and does overcome the normal  pattern of educational inequality that afflicts many of these schools. Charter  school advocates continually assert such advantages and often point to the  strong demand for the schools by minority parents in minority communities,  including schools that are designed specifically to serve a minority population.  It is certainly true that minority parents are actively seeking alternatives to  segregated, concentrated poverty, and low-achieving public schools. White  parents have also shown strong interest in educational alternatives as evidenced  by the strong demand for magnet schools   (Frankenberg and Lee 2003 website).

(Volume 11 Number 32  September 5, 2003ISSN 1068-2341  Charter  Schools and Race: A Lost Opportunity for  Integrated Education  Erica  Frankenberg Harvard University Chungmei Lee Harvard University http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v11n32/).

Lee and Frankenberg make the point that one might think that charter  schools would have a better chance to be integrated than public schools. They  argue that like magnet schools a generation earlier, charter schools can offer  distinctive curricula and the opportunity to create and manage schools with  freedom from many normal constraints in large districts. Yet, as they state,  unlike magnet schools, charter schools have the added advantages of even greater  freedom to innovate, they are unleashed from any regulations and backed by huge  philanthropists who can outmaneuver and out-lawyer the best of them and market  their ‘services’ to kids in all geographical areas.  Nor, for the most part, are charter  schools tied to geographically fixed attendance boundaries in residentially  segregated communities as are neighborhood public schools but they can draw from  wherever interested students can be found (though it must be mentioned that in  some places where school districts grant charters, they are limited to the  school district boundaries) (ibid).

In light of this disturbing trend towards class based, gender based and  racial based segregation we see one more reason why charter schools are now the  unleashed Chimera that is in the process of replacing what many of us once new  as public schools, in the future perhaps leaving what is left of the public  sector to the most disenfranchised of students that even the charter schools  charlatans don’t want.

Chungmei Lee and Frankenberg, “  Charter  Schools and Race: A Lost Opportunity for Integrated  Education”  E .Volume 11 Number 32  September 5, 2003ISSN 1068-2341  Harvard  University  Harvard  University . Website:  http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v11n32/.

Cobb, C., and G. Glass. Ethnic Segregation in  Arizona  Charter

Schools. Tempe , AZ :  Education Policy Analysis, January 1999.

Dent, D. “ Diversity Rules Threaten North Carolina Charter Schools that  Aid Blacks.” New York Times, 23  December 1998.

False  Promises: Assessing Charter Schools in Twin Cities Institute on Race and Policy  website: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2008/11/26_charter_school/charterreport.pdf.

Eckes,S and K. Rapp.  “Dispelling the Myth of “White Flight”:  An Examination of Minority Enrollment in Charter Schools.”   Educational Policy. v21 n4 (2007): 615 –  661

Frankenberg and Lee.  “Charter schools and race: A lost  opportunity for integrated education.” Education Policy Analysis Archives,  11(32).   2003

Jordan, J. “State Wants New Charter School To Serve Low  Income” April 30, 2009 Website:  http://www.projo.com/news/content/charter_school_criteria_change_04-30-09_LPE78_v20.36ab0dc.html

Kenney, E. and J.L. Miller.  “Charter Gender Bill OK’D in House  Legislation Would Allow All-Boys, All-Girls Options”  The News Journal (January 23, 2008)  Website:

http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080123/NEWS/801230363/1006/NEWS

Kozol, J. The Shame of the Nation: The  Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in  America. Three Rivers Press, (August 1,  2006)

In,  (ERIC) website:  Are Charter Schools  More Racially Segregated Than Traditional Public Schools?  Policy Report 30.  (March 2007) http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/Home.portal?_nfpb=true&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED430323&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&_pageLabel=RecordDetails&accno=ED498628&_nfls=false&objectId=0900019b80201c86.

Wells, A., A. Lopez, J. Scott, and J. Holme. “Charter  Schools as Postmodern Paradox: Rethinking Social Stratification in an Age of  Deregulated School Choice.” Harvard  Educational Review 69, no. 2 (Summer  1999).

WMN  website:  Some Delaware Charter  Schools Segregated Unequal.  April  4, 2007.  Website: http://www.wmich.edu/wmu/news/2007/04/014.html