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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 7, no. 1 (January 14, 1999).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c January 14, 1999
Ethnic segregation in Arizona charter schools / Casey D. Cobb [and] Gene V. Glass.
Arizona State University.
University of South Florida.
t Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA)
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1 of 39 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 7 Number 1January 14, 1999ISSN 1068-2341 A peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal Editor: Gene V Glass, College of Education Arizona State University Copyright 1999, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES. Permission is hereby granted to copy any article if EPAA is credited and copies are not sold. Articles appearing in EPAA are abstracted in the Current Index to Journals in Education by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation and are permanently archived in Resources in Education Ethnic Segregation in Arizona Charter Schools Casey D. Cobb University of New Hampshire Gene V Glass Arizona State University[The editorial review and decisions on this article were the responsibility of Anthony G. Rud Jr. of the Editorial Board .]Abstract Among the criticisms of charter schools i s their potential to further stratify schools along ethnic and class lin es. This study addressed whether Arizona charter schools are more ethnically segregated than traditional public schools. In 1996 -97, Arizona had nearly one in four of all charter schools in the Un ited States. The analysis involved a series of comparisons between t he ethnic compositions of adjacent charter and public schools in Arizona's most populated region and its rural towns. This met hodology differed from the approach of many evaluations of c harter schools and ethnic stratification in that it incorporated t he use of geographic maps to compare schools' ethnic make-ups. The ethni c compositions of 55 urban and 57 rural charter schools were inspe cted relative to their traditional public school neighbors. Nearly half of the charter schools exhibite d evidence of
2 of 39substantial ethnic separation. Arizona charter scho ols not only contained a greater proportion of White students, b ut when comparable nearby traditional public schools were u sed for comparison, the charters were typically 20 percenta ge points higher in White enrollment than the other publics. Moreove r, the charter schools that had a majority of ethnic minority stud ents enrolled in them tended to be either vocational secondary schoo ls that do not lead to college or "schools of last resort" for stu dents being expelled from the traditional public schools. The degree of ethnic separation in Arizona schools is large enough and consistent e nough to warrant concern among education policymakers. Introduction School choice arguably has become the most significant education policy issue of this decade. Choice programs such as vouchers, char ter schools, open enrollment, and tuition tax credits continue to be discussed and de bated at all levels of government and society. Charter schools are clearly at the forefro nt of the school choice movement, enjoying widespread public and legislative approval Indeed, as of June 1998, 32 states have enacted legislation permitting the establishme nt of publicly funded charter schools. Among the criticisms of school choice progr ams, and hence, charter schools, is their potential to further stratify schools along r acial, socioeconomic, and other class-based lines (see e.g., Corwin & Flaherty, 199 5; Elmore, 1987; O'Neil, 1996; Wells, 1993; Wells & Crain, 1992; Willms, 1986;). For inst ance, numerous commentators have expressed concern that charter schools will "skim" predominantly White, privileged students from public schools (see e.g., Buechler, 1 996; Elmore, 1986; Fitzgerald, Harris, Huidekoper & Mani, 1998; Lee & Croninger, 1994; Wel ls, 1993). Were this to be true, charter schools could be found culpable of contribu ting to the re-segregation of America's schools. It is similarly plausible that c harter schools could "cream" students of color, resulting in ethnically concentrated schools of choice. Given the novelty of charter schools and obstacles to obtaining relevant data, f ew empirical analyses have addressed these matters. Proponents of charter schools consistently report that charters serve a proportionate (or sometimes higher) percentage of minority studen ts in comparison to traditional public schools. Opponents say these data fly in the face of common sense-that parents will tend to choose schools that predominantly serv e children from backgrounds and class orientations similar to their own. This study addresses two major questions wi thin the context of ethnic stratification. First, is there evidence that charter schools are skimming" White students? And second, are Arizona charter schools more ethnically concent rated than traditional public schools? The answers to these questions will help determine more generally if Arizona charter legislation (A.R.S. Â§ 15-181) has resulted in incre ased ethnic segregation among its publicly funded schools.Related LiteratureCharter Schools and Ethnic Stratification
3 of 39 Several major charter school evaluations an d policy reports concluded that the ethnic compositions of charter schools are in line with those of traditional public schools. Buechler (1996) reviewed various surveys, newspaper and magazine articles, research reports, and policy briefs from across the nation in compiling the 1996 report Charter Schools: Legislation and Results after Four Years He summarized: As a group, the schools serve a student population comparable to the overall public school population in terms of race and socio economic status--not an elite population of upper-middle-class white studen ts, as some had feared. Indeed, many charter schools have been designed exp licitly to serve at-risk students. .... If anything, charter schools serve a more underprivileged student population than regular public schools do. (Buechler, 1996, pp. 26-27) A Study of Charter Schools: First-Year Report a comprehensive national evaluation sponsored by the U.S. Department of Educ ation Office of Educational Research and Improvement, reported similar findings : "Charter schools have, in most states, a racial composition similar to statewide a verages or have a higher proportion of students of color" (U.S. Department of Education, 1 997, p. 24). This conclusion was based on state-by-state enrollment comparisons betw een a total of 214 charter schools and 21,656 public schools in ten states. Data were collected from the 1993-94 National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data Charter schools in Michigan, Minnesota and Massachusetts served a higher percent age of predominantly (i.e., greater than 80%) minority students than did public schools In contrast, charters in Arizona, California and Colorado enrolled a higher percentag e of White (i.e., greater than 80%) students than did public schools. Overall, 95 of th e 214 (44.4%) charter schools in the sample served student populations that were at leas t 80% White, while 45 charters (21.0%) enrolled student populations that were at l east 80% minority. On behalf of the Colorado Department of Edu cation, the Clayton Foundation evaluated 24 Colorado charter schools in 1997 (Fitz gerald et al., 1998). Evaluators compared the percentages of students of color enrol led in charter schools with those of their sponsoring districts. Five charter schools ou t of the 24 served roughly (plus or minus two percentage points) the same percentage of students of color as their sponsoring districts. Four charters served a greate r percentage of students of color than their sponsoring districts. In only one instance di d the percentage of students of color (0.0%) served by the charter fall outside the range of percentages for district schools. The report concluded that, overall, charters enroll ed racially diverse student populations. Southwest Regional Laboratory published Freedom and Innovation in California's Charter Schools in the Fall of 1995. Surveying 54 of the 66 operat ing charter schools in California, evaluators asked administrators to esti mate the percentages of racial and ethnic minorities that their schools served. To est ablish a comparison group, administrators were also asked to name nearby publi c schools that their students would have most likely attended had they not attended the ir charter school. Of the 83 public comparison schools identified by charter school adm inistrators, 46 returned surveys that contained information on student characteristics. A comparison of the enrollments between charter schools and public schools led the evaluators to conclude that "the data do not support the hypothesis that charter schools are less racially balanced than nearby comparison schools" (Corwin & Flaherty, 1995, p. 11 2). Almost half of both the samples exhibited student populations comprising 50 % or greater minorities. Further, only one in five charter schools served less than 2 0% minorities, an amount consistent
4 of 39with the comparison group. An evaluation of Texas charter schools prov ided evidence of ethnic clustering (Taebel et al., 1997). Of the 17 charter schools in the study, nine were 90% or higher ethnic minority. Eight of these had curricula desig ned to serve at-risk students. The non-at-risk schools enrolled over three-fourths of all White students served by the charter cohort. Exclusionary Admissions Practices There is some concern that selective admiss ions policies could contribute to racial imbalances among schools. The Colorado Department o f Education (Fitzgerald et al., 1998) found no evidence, at least "on the surface," of exclusionary practices. All, save for one, of the 24 charter schools in the study use d some random process, such as a lottery, or a first-come-first-served policy to adm it students. The lone exception was the Stargate Charter School, which targeted gifted and talented students. For students qualifying as intellectually or academically gifted the school allocated the first 100 seats--with reserved race and gender slots based on district percentages--on a first-come-first-served basis. The remaining 50 sea ts were allocated by lottery. Interestingly, Stargate enrolled 12% students of co lor in a district with schools that ranged from a low of 12% to a high of 60% minority enrollment. Fieldworkers for the U.S. Department of Edu cation (1997) conducted several telephone surveys, site interviews, and focus group s with charter school directors. Of those surveyed by phone, nearly three-quarters indi cated that applications for admission exceeded capacity. For those schools with waiting l ists, 39% reported using some random selection process, 41% employed a first-come -first-served policy, 10% used some combination of these policies, and the remaini ng 10% used some "other" [emphasis in the original] process. Although the ev aluators did not find evidence of explicit discriminatory admissions practices, they remarked in an endnote: More subtle processes of selecting students, howeve r, may be at work. Intensive field research in subsequent years should allow us to probe deeper into selection processes. For example, we will want to ask, in situations where it is possible, whether charter schools activ ely seek out students from diverse ethnic or racial backgrounds. The research team documented several cases where the schools do reach out actively, but we cannot report definitive data at this time. (U.S. Department of E ducation, 1997, p. 47) Nine of seventeen Texas charter schools exh ibited acute cases of racial distinctiveness (Taebel et al., 1997). Evaluators a ttributed the enrollment imbalance to four factors, two of which were a first-come-firstserved admissions policy and word-of-mouth marketing. Indeed, parents cited word -ofmouth as the most influential form of advertising. The evaluators commented: While it is reassuring to know that parents share s uch information with one another, there is a danger of exclusion when recrui tment is a function of whom you know. "Friend or relative" communication n etworks also tend to be homogeneous with respect to race and class. Rely ing solely on this kind of communications for student recruitment means tha t those who come first may be racially and socioeconomically similar to th e existing student body. (p. 97)
5 of 39 It is not uncommon for charter schools to r equire parents to sign formal "involvement" agreements to participate in their ch ild's instructional programs. Such contracts have the potential to serve as sorting me chanisms, excluding parents who may be willing but are practically unable to fulfill su ch commitments. Corwin and Flaherty (1995) noted poignantly, "Although charter schools were created to allow parents greater choice in the kinds of schools their children atten d, parent contracts seem to give schools greater choice over the kinds of parents they choos e to serve" (p. 105). Becker, Nakagawa, and Corwin (1995) asked 2 8 charter school administrators in California what factors they considered in acceptin g new students. Twenty-five percent indicated that an "essential" determinant was that the "parent or guardian will participate in requested ways" (p. 18). From their original sam ple of 34 charter schools, 27 (79%) reported using parent involvement contracts. Methodological Issues Many of the national policy reports and eva luations lack the sophistication and rigor necessary to draw valid conclusions about the possible segregating effect of charter schools. In the first, there is great risk in makin g sweeping statements about charter schools given the variability in state charter scho ol laws. Some states carefully regulate the admissions process while others do not. States also differ widely in terms of the restrictions on the number and types of charters to be awarded. For example, legislation in over a third of the charter states either encour ages or requires a portion of charter schools to appeal to the needs of at-risk youth (Bu echler, 1996). Second, data aggregated at the state and ev en district level mask variation among schools. For instance, the U.S. Department of Educa tion (1997) reported that in 1995-96, Arizona charter schools served 20.2% Hispa nic students while the public schools served 27.6%. These aggregated data cannot speak to the variability in the percentage of Hispanics served within either segmen t. Several charter and public schools in Arizona are ethnically concentrated, but this in formation is shrouded in grossly aggregated statistics. Finally, difficulty in obtaining accurate d ata is a common complaint among charter school researchers. This is not altogether surprisi ng, as by design one of the major advantages of charter schools is to free them from burdensome record keeping responsibilities. For example, Corwin and Flaherty (1995) asked traditional public and charter school administrators to estimate the perce nt of minorities that their school enrolled within very broad ranges (i.e., between 019%, 20-49%). Obviously, imperfect data attenuate the strength of evaluators' conclusi ons. School Choice and Social Stratification Given the dearth of empirical studies that address charter schools and ethnic stratification, the literature review was broadened to include studies on school choice and social stratification. Considerably more resear ch has been conducted in this area. Since the United Kingdom passed public scho ol choice legislation in 1980, it has served as the focus for many studies on parental ch oice (Willms, 1996). Adler, Petch, and Tweedie (1989) asked over 600 parents in Scotla nd to identify their criteria for choosing a school. They found that few parents emph asized educational considerations, such as curriculum or test results. Instead, their main reasons for choosing a school were based on social factors, such as school climate and general reputation, as well as with
6 of 39practical issues, such as proximity. Witte (1993) interviewed 171 parents who pa rticipated in the Milwaukee Choice Program in 1991. Although the most emphasized crite ria for selecting a school was perceived educational quality, 75% of the parents c onsidered the "other children in chosen school" to be an important or very important factor in their decision. Incidentally, 80% deemed location of chosen school important or v ery important. Based on a nationally-representative sample of secondary students in the U.K., Echols, McPherson, and Willms (1990) reported that choice schools tended to serve populations of above average socioeconomic class. I n addition, those parents who exercised choice were relatively more educated and belonged to a higher social class. Willms (1996) conducted a more sophisticated longit udinal analysis to investigate the extent to which Scottish communities had become soc ially segregated. He reported that "there was clearly greater propensity to exercise c hoice among higher social class and better educated parents" (p. 142) and that "parents choosing within the state sector disproportionately chose schools with higher mean S ES than other state-sector schools" (p. 143). Based on a nationally representative sample of secondary students in the U.K., Echols, McPherson, and Willms (1990) reported that choice schools tended to serve populations of above average socioeconomic class. I n addition, those parents who exercised choice were relatively more educated and belonged to a higher social class. Willms (1996) conducted a more sophisticated longit udinal analysis to investigate the extent to which Scottish communities had become soc ially segregated. He reported that "there was clearly greater propensity to exercise c hoice among higher social class and better educated parents" (p. 142) and that "parents choosing within the state sector disproportionately chose schools with higher mean S ES than other state-sector schools" (p. 143). Whitty (1997) conducted an extensive revi ew of school choice research in England, New Zealand, and the United States. Within the English system, Whitty observed that parental choice did not lead to a "tr uly diversified system" (p. 14) and Walford (1992) concluded that choice will "discrimi nate in particular against working class children and children of Afro-Caribbean desce nt" (p. 137). A major study on school choice in New Zealand reported similar polar izing effects. Whitty (1997) ultimately summarized, "...my conclusion from the e vidence we have to date is that, far from being the best hope for the poor, as Moe (1994 ) suggests, the creation of quasi-markets is likely to exacerbate existing ineq ualities" (p. 5). A two-year study on school choice programs in New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago revealed that minority students and stu dents from low-income families were underrepresented by choice schools with select ive admissions policies (Moore & Davenport, 1990). The authors reported: In these school systems, school choice has, by and large, become a new improved method of student sorting, in which school s pick and choose among students. In this sorting process, black and Hispanic students, low-income students, students with low achievement, students with absence and behavior problems, handicapped students, and li mited-Englishproficient students have very limited opportunities to participate in popular-options high schools and programs. Rather, students at risk are disproportionately concentrated in schools where th eir fellow students are minority, low-income, and have a variety of learnin g problems. (p. 188)Methods
7 of 39Data Sources October enrollment data disaggregated by ra ce and ethnicity, gender, and grade level for the years 1994-1997 were obtained from th e Arizona Department of Education (ADE) School Finance Division for all public elemen tary and secondary schools in Arizona. The same data were acquired from the ADE f or charter schools for the years 1995-1997. Enrollment figures in these schools comp rise the entire corpus of data. All public schools, including charter schoo ls, are required to report October 1 enrollments by race and ethnicity, gender, and grad e level (John Eickman, personal communication, May 26, 1998). The racial and ethnic codes used by the ADE are White, Black, Hispanic, American Indian or Alaskan Native, and Asian or Pacific Islander. The ADE collected October enrollment data f rom 51 charter school sites in 1995 (charter schools' inaugural year), 132 in 1996, and 137 in 1997. Although one would assume that the number of charter schools reporting enrollment data would represent the total number of operating charters for that year, t his is not the case. Conversations with several members of the ADE failed to confirm precis e numbers of operating charter schools. Charter schools open and close during the year, and do not necessarily open in the year that they are granted, thus making it diff icult to maintain exact numbers of operating charters. Best estimates from ADE dated l ists of charter schools are displayed in Table 1.Table 1 Number of Charters Reporting Enrollment Data and Es timated Number of Operating ChartersYearNo. Reporting DataEst. No. Operating1995 51 511996132 1351997 137 215 Most notable are the October enrollment dat a submitted by charter schools for 1997, which deviate substantially from the often re ported 240 to 260 operating charter schools in the third year of their existence. (The 1997 October enrollment data were collected by the ADE as late as May 15, 1998, which allowed sufficient time for schools to report. The ADE Charter Schools Handbook mandate s that all schools report these data by October 31 of each year.) To obtain the num ber of operating charter schools in the 1997-98 school year, a team of researchers (the author, Gregg Garn and Linda Brock-Nelson) queried the 250 charter schools liste d by the ADE as of March 23, 1998. Results indicated that at most 215 charter schools were in operation in the Spring of 1998. Thus, 1997-98 charter school enrollment data used here represents roughly two-thirds of the population of operating charter s chools. Schools not classified as regular public sc hools (e.g., accommodation schools, vocational and technical schools not operated by pu blic school districts, and the like) were removed from the analysis. For instance, 34 of these non-traditional schools that served 6,100 students were eliminated from the 1996 data set. Digital map data of metropolitan Phoenix st reet grids, census tracts, and zip code boundaries were acquired from the data archives of the Arizona State University
8 of 39Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Laboratory. Si te addresses of charter and traditional public schools were obtained from the A DE School Finance Division. In those instances where addresses were absent or in a form that did not indicate geographic location, the ADE School Report Card web site (http://sais.ade.state.az.us/rcweb/) or direct inqu iries to schools provided street addresses. In all, 586 addresses were geocoded onto a digital map using Arcview. Initially, about three-fourths of the addresses wer e successfully matched by Arcview. The remaining 136 addresses were manually plotted b y reference to the 1998 edition of the Phoenix Metropolitan Street Atlas Lastly, selected census data were acquired from the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG). Thes e data were collected by MAG as part of the 1995 Special Census of Maricopa Coun ty. Procedures ADE October enrollments for the years 19951997 were aggregated by year for all schools. First, ethnic distributions were compared between charter and traditional public schools. Then, for reasons explained later, compari sons were made after removing reservation charter schools. The remainder (to be sure, the core) of the analysis involved a series of comparisons between the ethnic compositions of adja cent charter and public schools in Arizona's most populated region and its rural towns This methodology differs from the approach of many evaluations of charter schools and racial stratification in two major respects. First, it examines the potential for ethn ic separation at the disaggregated level of school. Second, for half of the charter schools, explicit comparisons are made within the context of geographic maps. To see the ethnic separation in Arizona cha rter schools, one must examine the geography of the situation. The crucial question is not what percents of ethnic groups either are or are not in charter schools; rather, t he crucial question is how are ethnic groups distributed between propinquitous charter an d traditional public schools. This question is addressed differently in small rural pl aces and in large metropolitan areas. In the former, because attendance catchment areas are small, it is sufficient merely to list small towns that have charter schools and compare t heir ethnic composition to the traditional public school or schools in the same to wn. In the case of large metropolitan areas, it is necessary to plot actual maps of these areas and inspect the ethnic distributions of adjacent charter and traditional p ublic schools. Attempts to depict the magnitude of differe nces among schoolsÂ’ ethnic compositions while holding constant size and grade level through various statistical measures prove problematic. Popular measures of lev el of segregation, such as the Dissimilarity Index, and measures of equity, such a s the Gini coefficient or Lorenz Curve, are highly sensitive to numbers of students in schools. The relative smallness of charter schools makes comparisons via these types o f measures questionable. Moreover, within this context, these indices are simply power less to detect between-school segregation. No statistical technique can aptly dis cern differences among urban schools as completely as maps. These analyses are exploratory (Tukey, 1977 ), not confirmatory. It is impossible in advance of studying these data in detail to specify individual "hypotheses" to test. Hence the exploratory nature of these analyses. There are no significance tests here simply because there is no sampling of a probabilistic sor t that could give meaning to any probabilistic inferences. Absent also are correlati onal techniques such as multiple regression analysis, which decontextualize the data and do not provide adequate means
9 of 39to detect the existence of a phenomenon, if it exis ts; further, they are difficult for laypersons to interpret. Map Analysis of Urban Charter Schools Using Arcview, pertinent Arcview coverage a nd shape files, and ADE school address data, charter and traditional public school s were plotted onto a digital map of metropolitan Phoenix. Each school was virtually lin ked to 1996 October enrollment data. The 1997 data were not plotted because they w ere not available at the time, and even so, were not nearly as complete as the 1996 da ta. Data were available for 55 charter and 518 traditional public schools in metropolitan Phoenix. Metropolitan Phoenix accounts for nearly 60% of Arizona's population. In the Fall of 1996, metropolitan Phoen ix was home to about half (47%) of the 132 charter schools in the state. Arizona is demographically unique in that t wo urban centers account for the majority of its populace. Metropolitan Phoenix and the city of Tucson comprise over three-fourths of the state's population. In the int erest of time, and considering that metropolitan Phoenix is over three times as populat ed as Tucson and is home to far more charter schools, Tucson was excluded from the analy sis. The exploratory nature of the map analysis ultimately led to a systematic approach with which to search for ethnic separation. The eth nic composition of every charter school in metropolitan Phoenix was compared to that of nearby traditional public schools of comparable grade levels. This spatial an alysis was done using maps that ranged in coverage from 5 to 28 square miles. In so me areas, multiple charter and multiple public schools coexisted. In others, a sin gle charter school was located in the vicinity of five or six public schools. Judgments w ere made as to the presence and degree of ethnic separation primarily on the basis of the magnitude of difference in the proportion of White students enrolled. Typically, o ccurrences of ethnic separation were documented in instances where the magnitude of diff erence was 15% or greater. Multiple schools of various sizes, grade levels, di stances apart, and ethnic distributions complicated matters, but were factors all of which were carefully considered. The nature of "nearby" is what remains to be unpacked and will surely be contested by those who advance other explanations of the findings discover ed here. Judging whether a traditional public school is "nearby" a charter sch ool and hence may serve as a comparison of enrollment data is a complex judgment not captured simply by geographic distance (i.e., miles separation), schoo l district boundaries or other obvious and easily specified criteria. For example, canals, cultural factors like the fact that Mesa is Mormon in many areas, sections of cities isolate d by freeways or mountains, and differences in population densities must be simulta neously considered when making these judgments. For the most part, the analysis relied on t he maps prima facie. But there is doubtless a story behind each picture that could not be told here. Given the large number of charters addressed by this study, it seemed unreaso nable to try to account for all potential alternative hypotheses (that is, alternat ive to attributing ethnic separation to a charter school). In ambiguous instances or otherwis e where deemed useful, additional information was provided to supplement the face val ue information provided by the maps. Certainly, the core of the analysis was spati ally and numerically based, but where applicable, ancillary evidence provided further exp lanation. The map analysis spawned a less comprehensi ve but more clearly specifiable and readily interpretable matched comparison analysis. The nearest public school or schools,
10 of 39again of comparable grade level, were matched with each charter school. The geographically related comparison group was chosen in preference to a random sample of public schools in Maricopa County because it con trols, in effect, for geographic location and ethnic composition of the immediate re gion. Indeed, a random sample would not be prudent because charter schools do not locate under the same conditions that traditional public schools do. In those cases where the grade range of a charter school was not mirrored by a nearby public school, public schools that "covered" the grade levels were combined. For example, for a K-12 charter school, the nearest K-5, 6-8, and 9-12 public schools collectively served as the matched comparison. In all, the ethnic distributions of 55 matched pairs were inspe cted. In addition, charter and public comparison schools were grouped into three categori es: schools below 30% White, over 70% White, and in between 30-70% White. Lastly, mere surface level exploration of t he data raised suspicion of a relationship between the educational mission of charters and the ir ethnic make-up. This triggered the categorization of secondary level charters into eit her college prep or voc-ed programs. Classifications were primarily based on self-descri bed school missions, organizations and philosophies, and instructional programs found in the 1996 online ADE School Report Cards (http://sais.ade.state.az.us/rcweb/). Descriptors such as "at-risk," "school-to-work," and "tech-prep" placed schools in the voc-ed category. Indicators of a more mainstream or college-bound program (e.g., "ac ademic college preparatory," "college prep," or "accelerated learning") designat ed schools as college prep. Analysis of Small Town Charter Schools The rural data are inclusive of small towns that contain public schools and at least one charter school. This straightforward analysis c ompared charter schools to traditional public schools of the same grade level. Additionall y, the analysis that explored the relationship between educational program and ethnic composition among urban charters was repeated for the rural cohort. A total of 57 ru ral charter and 88 public schools (which included several reservation schools) from 3 6 rural Arizona towns was examined. In sum, the ethnic compositions of 55 urban and 57 rural charter schools were inspected relative to their traditional public scho ol neighbors.Results Tables 2-4 present aggregated ethnic distri butions of charter and traditional public schools for the years 1995-1997. Across all years, charter schools enrolled a considerably higher proportion of Black students th an traditional public schools. In contrast, Hispanic students were significantly unde rrepresented in charter schools. For instance, in 1996, Hispanic students participated i n charter schools at half the rate at which they participated in traditional public schoo ls. That same year witnessed a three-fold increase in American Indian charter scho ol participation over their presence in traditional public schools. This is commented on be low. Also notable are the percentages of White students served by charter and traditional public schools, which differed only marginally for the first two years. B y the third year of their operation, however, charter schools enrolled a higher percenta ge of White students than the traditional public schools. (An important caveat: i t should be noted once again that for reasons unknown the charter school enrollment data for 1997 were much less complete than for the prior years.)
11 of 39Table 2 1995 Ethnic Compositions of Arizona Schools Trad. Public Students (n=1159) Charter Students (n=51) EthnicityNo.% No.% White 434,473 57.6% 3,718 59.9% Black31,132 4.1% 63110.2% Hispanic 222,75129.5% 1,215 19.6% Am. Indian52,868 7.0% 564 9.1% Asian 12,957 1.7% 79 1.3% All754,181100.0% 6,207100.0% Note. Due to rounding, percents do not sum exactly to 100.0%Table 3 1996 Ethnic Compositions of Arizona Schools Trad. Public Students (n=1148) Charter Students (n=132) EthnicityNo.% No.% White440,894 56.8%9,77655.2%Black 32,2644.2% 1,2517.1%Hispanic 236,47530.4%2,91916.5%Am. Indian53,5276.9% 3,56720.1% Asian13,7121.8%2131.2% All 776,872100.0%17,726100.0% Note. Due to rounding, percents do not sum exactly to 100.0%Table 4 1997 Ethnic Compositions of Arizona Schools Trad. Public Students (n=1181) Charter Students (n=135) EthnicityNo.% No.% White 440,88755.9%11,80461.4% Black 33,521 4.3%1,1766.1% Hispanic 245,52831.1%3,44217.9% Am. Indian53,9056.8% 2,48412.9% Asian 14,4611.8% 3071.6% All 788,302 100.0% 19,213100.0%
12 of 39 Note. Due to rounding, percents do not sum exactly to 100.0% Some questions have been raised about the n ature of charter schools on American Indian reservations. Nearly all of them are convert ed from erstwhile reservation schools that were formerly funded by BIA or other federal p rograms. Given their geographic isolation and virtually unchanged condition, reserv ation charter schools do not offer genuine educational alternatives for students in th ose communities. If the reservation schools are removed from Tables 2-4 (i.e., if all schools for which the American Indian percent of students is 93% or g reater are taken out) the data are even more revealing of the segregation trend emergi ng in the charter schools. For 1996, the difference in the percentage of White students attending charter and traditional public schools widened nearly ten-fold after removi ng the reservation schools (see Tables 3 and 6). For 1997, the difference nearly do ubled (see Tables 4 and 7).Table 5 1995 Ethnic Compositions of Arizona Schools with Reservation Schools Removed Trad. Public Students (n=1105) Charter Students (n=50) Ethnicity No. % No.%White 434,074 59.6% 3,71864.8% Black 31,117 4.3% 631 11.0% Hispanic 222,675 30.6% 1,215 21.2% Am. Indian27,543 3.8% 91 1.6% Asian 12,928 1.8% 79 1.4%All 728,337 100.0% 5,734 100.0% Note. Due to rounding, percents do not sum exactly to 100.0%Table 6 1996 Ethnic Compositions of Arizona Schools with Reservation Schools Removed Trad. Public Students (n=1092) Charter Students (n=124) Ethnicity No.% No.%White 440,51958.7% 9,76067.0% Black 32,250 4.3% 1,248 8.6%Hispanic 236,409 31.5% 2,91620.0% Am. Indian 27,202 3.6%4463.1%Asian 13,683 1.8%2081.4%All 750,063 100.0% 14,578 100.0%
13 of 39 Note. Due to rounding, percents do not sum exactly to 100.0%Table 7 1997 Ethnic Compositions of Arizona Schools with Reservation Schools Removed Trad. Public Students (n=1124) Charter Students (n=129) EthnicityNo.%No. %White 440,52157.8%11,792 68.4%Black 33,511 4.4%1,176 6.8%Hispanic 245,453 32.2% 3,44019.9% Am. Indian28,068 3.7%5333.1%Asian14,441 1.9%3041.8%All761,994100.0% 17,245 100.0% Note. Due to rounding, percents do not sum exactly to 100.0% Finally, not only are the charter schools d isproportionately White, the trend to become even more White can be seen by inspecting al l three years' data (see Table 8). (Once again, the 1997 data should be interpreted wi th caution as these are curiously incomplete.)Table 8 Percent White Students in Charters (Excluding Reservation Schools)Year % White 199564.8%199667.0%199768.4% Aggregated data, like those presented above are powerless to illuminate potential ethnic separation at the level of school. For insta nce, in 1996, well over half (56.3%) of the Black students attending charter schools were s erved by just three schools. As the data are explored even more (here, and in subsequen t analyses), the trend toward ethnic stratification becomes clearer. The map and small t own analyses provide the best opportunity for discovering ethnic separation in ur ban and rural communities if it exists. Maps of Urban Charter Schools Nineteen maps (Figures 1-19) of sections of metropolitan Phoenix contain 34 different charter and 128 different traditional pub lic schools. The maps averaged a charter-to-traditional school ratio of 1:5.2. Toget her, they covered 220 non-duplicated
14 of 39 Figure 1. Proportion of White students in east Phoenix elementary-middle schools (1996) Figure 2. Proportion of White students in central Phoenix elementary schools ('96) square miles in six cities. The maps are rich with information, conveyi ng spatial relationships among schools and unique geographic properties such as canals, ri vers, and major streets and highways. They include the following school information: prop ortion of White students (in three instances the proportion of Black students), name, size, and approximate grade level. Most cases permitted grade level comparisons. Final ly, though not every charter school on the following maps is implicated, every map prov ides evidence of ethnic separation on the part of a charter or charter schools. Figure 1 displays three proximal Villa Mont essori charter schools that collectively enrolled over 300 students. The Main and Meadowbroo k Campuses are converted private schools and have been in operation for 30 a nd 7 years, respectively. The Campbell Campus opened as a charter school in 1996. The neighborhood that surrounds the three charter schools consists of a mix of lowe r to middle class residential homes. Interestingly, and paradoxically in view ofMontessori School origins in the slums of Rome, Ita ly, (and in view of the 1993 position statement of theAmerican Montessori Society that a Montessoriclassroom must have a "heterogeneous group ofstudents"[http://www.seattleu.edu/~jcm/montessori/key_concept s.html]), these schools served predominantly White populations in an ethnically ri ch community. Indeed, the five traditional public schools of comparable grade leve l that form a half circle beneath the charter schools (all within two miles) ranged from 18% to 43% White. The most distant elementary school on the map is 74% White, a lower percentage than exhibited by any of the three charter schools (83%, 89%, and 90% Whi te). In response to an early release of the above map, some defenders of charter schools remarked that they see no reason that a Montessori school that was historically Whit e would not remain so after becoming a charter school. Conversely, critics of charter sc hools could point out that the data in the above map represent a failure of parents of non-Whi te students to make market choices in what is alleged to be a market driven system. The area of Phoenix represented by Figure 2 is predominantly ethnic minority. Indeed, every tradit ional elementary school within this nine square mile regi on was under 40% White; six schools were below 15% White. At the K-4 Khlasa Montessori charter school, though sm all relative to neighboring traditional elementary scho ols, at least 8 of 10 students were White. Figure 3 presents the rare instance in whic h there are more charter schools than traditional public school s though they are small and the vast majority of students in the area attend traditional public schools. This region, which is inclusive of downtown Phoenix, is predominantly eth nic minority. Two of the charter high schools (Arizona School for the Arts and Intel li-School) were considerably more White than the public secondary schools in the area Arizona School for the Arts was over 3 1/2 times and Intelli-School was over 2 1/2 times as White as North High School. North High School serves as a better public compari son school than either Metro Tech or Desiderata, as these are both non-traditional sc hools and, further, Desiderata enrolled only 59 students.
15 of 39 Figure 3. Proportion of White students in central Phoenix high schools ('96) Figure 4. Proportion of Black students in central Phoenix schools ('96) Figure 5. Proportion of Black students in north central Phoenix schools ('96) Figure 6. Proportion of White students in north central Phoenix elementary-middle schools ('96) Figure 7. Proportion of Of the four remaining charter schools, thre e shared similar ethnic distributions with nearby public schools. The Academy of Lifelong Lear ning charter school enrolled too few students (i.e., 10 students) to be considered a s a contributor to ethnic separation. There is a good possibility that the Arizon a School for the Arts drew students from beyond the 13 square mile a rea encompassed by Figure 3, and perhaps even beyond th e 20,000-student, 30%-White district within which it is located. But even beyond this map, the major public high sch ools within roughly a ten-mile radius of the School for the Art s show percents White enrollment of, in ascending order of distance, 34%, 31%, 17%, 11%, 31%, 67%, 83%, 23%, 66%, 71%, 6 5%, 52%, 76%, 89%, 37%, 81%, 80%, and 60%. Only one of these schools enrolled as high a percentage of White students as did the Arizona S chool for the Arts, and this was located on the other side of Squaw Peak Mountain in a vastly different (economically) neighborhood. If the White students at the Arizona School for the Arts were indeed coming from predominantly White districts, they wer e undertaking very long commutes. Figure 4 represents roughly the same sectio n of Phoenix as depicted by Figures 2 and 3. In this case, however, the proportion of Black students enrolled in schools of all grade levels is the primary basis for comparison. Most notable is the p redominance of Black students in the Future Developers and Perf ormers charter school (92% of 270 students were Black) rel ative to the traditional public schools (which ranged from 1% to 31% Black). Figure 5 illustrates a similar scenario. These are instances of ethnic separation in which the charter school has a higher proportion of ethnic minorities. ABC Alternative Learning Center, although o nly two-thirds White, was substantially more White than the nearby traditiona l public schools of the same grade level (see Figure 6). The six elementary and middle schools that surround ABC enrolled White students at about half that rate, on average. The area represented by Figure 7 is a highl y segregated region, Hispanic in the upper left corner of the ma p and Black in the center and to the right. No traditional publ ic school at any grade level enrolled as high a percentage of Bl ack students as Teen Choice Leadership (82% Black, 247students in grades K-8). The school with the next h ighest percentage of Blacks,Martin Luther King, Jr. School, was 16% points less (66% Black, 613students in grades K-4). The percentage of Blacksfor the eight remaining traditional public schoolswithin roughly a one-mile radius from Teen Choice Leadership were: 5%, 16%, 16%, 16%,23%, 31%, 34%, and 62%. Figure 8 shows the Gateway Community charte r high school (70% White) amidst eight traditional publicelementary and middle schools. Not shown are the th ree nearest public high schools, Arcadia (83% White), T empe
16 of 39 Black students in south central Phoenix schools ('96) Figure 8. Proportion of White students in southeast Phoenix schools ('96) Figure 9. Proportion of White students in south Scottsdale elementary-middle schools ('96) (52% White), and North (25% White). They were not s hown due to their scattered and distantlocations from Gateway. Based on proximity, Arcadia would be the best comparison hig h school (a four-mile drive from Gateway). But given this di stance, Tempe (5.2 miles) and North (5.8 miles) should not be excluded from comparison. The proportion of White s tudents among these schools varied to the point where simul taneous comparison to all three left the situation unresolv ed. In any case, the map was included because t he eight propinquitous schools, though serving students from lower grade levels, reflect t he ethnic composition of the region. The two public schools that flank Gateway were 6% a nd 13% White. The percentage of White students at Gateway is inconsistent with thos e of nearby schools, which is perhaps suggestive of ethnic separation. It is reasonable to assume that, given its sponsorship by and physical location within Gateway Community College, Gateway Community High School drew at least some students from distances well beyond its immedi ate area. It is likely that at least some of the students were children of parents who a ttend or work at the Community College--parents who probably lived in all areas of the Valley. That said, there is roughly 35 square miles of area surrounding Gateway Communi ty High School (excluding the airport and its adjacent industrial development) wh ere there is no high school. Technically, Gateway is located within the boundari es of the Phoenix Union High School District, which is 30% White. Indeed, it wou ld take quite an effort on the part of parents to transport their children on an almost da ily basis to Gateway Community High School. Most of Scottsdale is so homogeneously Whit e that ethnic separation could not occur. The southern section, however, is at least p artly ethnic minority and thus is subject to possible ethnic stratification. Figures 9 and 10 present scenarios in which this possibility is realized. Figure 9 depicts three charter schools that together span grades K-8. Two of these appear to contribute to ethnic separation (Villa Montessori and ScottsdaleHorizons). Indeed, no public school on the map enro lled as high a proportion of Whites as either ScottsdaleHorizons or Villa Montessori. Scottsdale Horizonsserved 226 students in grades K-8, 87% of which wer e White. The nearest traditional public schools that span the same grades are Yavapai Elementary (62% White) and Supai Middle (73% White). Both are less than a mile away from Scottsdale Hori zons. Villa Montessori, a K-2 school, enrolled on ly 36 students, 11% of which were ethnic minority. Neighboring Tonalea Elementary (on ly onehalf mile away) enrolled 608 students, 25% of which were ethnic minority. The two schools in Figure 10 are the only t wo secondary schools in an area that covers at least 30 square miles. The 262-member New School for the Arts charter school clearly served a higher percentage of White student s than the traditional public high
17 of 39 Figure 10. Proportion of White students in south Scottsdale high schools ('96) Figure 11. Proportion of White students in Tempe elementary schools ('96) Figure 12. Proportion of White students in Tempe middle schools ('96) Figure 13. Proportion of White students in Tempe high schools in ('96) Figure 14. Proportion of White students in south Glendale elementary-middle schools ('96) school (91% compared to 76% White). A parent of a former student at the New Sch ool for the Arts reported that the school had previously assess ed a registration and equipment fee. The student elected to focus her studies on photography, which required an equip ment fee of around $600. Although this has not been formally verified (the parent claims to possess the receipt), if true such practices serve to exclude families of lower socioe conomic status. Moreover, to the extent that there is a rel ationship between ethnicity and socioeconomic status, such pr actices may serve to exclude students from particular ethnic backgrounds. These practices have not been found to be unconstitutional, however. In Figure 11, Montessori Day Public is Whit er than any of the nine other elementary schools. The percent Whit e for the five nearest public elementary schools, in order of proximity, are 76%, 60%, 41%, 49%, and 78%. Tempe Prep Academy charter school is locate d less than a quarter mile from Fees Middle School (see Figure 12 ). Fees Middle School served nearly three timesthe proportion of ethnic minority students than did Tempe Prep. No other middle schoo ls are located in this 25 square mile area. Figure 13 consists of the three major publi c high schools in Tempe, a small public alternative high school, and a large-sized charter school. Seventy percent of the 295 students at Arizona Career Academy were White; fifty-two percent of the 1359 students at the nearest traditi onal public high school (Tempe High School) were White. Arizona Care er Academy was 10% points more White than either McCli ntock or Marcos De Niza High School. In Figure 14, it is difficult to judge the degree, if any, to which Copper Canyon Academy is ethnically segregate d relative to surrounding public schools. If Copper Canyon is simultaneously compared to the 11 public schools of comparable grade levels, conclusions are elusive. Comparison of the percenta ge of White students to those schools to the north of Copper Canyon (specifically north of Northern Avenue) do not indicate any evidence of ethnic separation. In cont rast, comparison to the traditional public schools to the south does, as Copper Canyonenrolled a higher percentage of White students than all but one of the schools (60% compared to 41%, 45%,22%, 44%, 50%, 20%, and 67%). The group to the south may be a more approp riate comparison group for two reasons. First, this clust er of schools is nearest to Copper Canyon. In fact, the c losest four schools, which are all nearly within 1 1/2 mil es, were 41%, 45%, 22%, and 44% White. Second, Copper C anyon is located within the boundaries of the Glendale Elementary District, whi ch is on average slightly under 50% White. The schools to the north reside in the Peori a Unified District, which is 78% White. This is not to say that students who lived w ithin the Peoria District attendance boundary did not or could not attend Copper Canyon Academy. To be sure, Copper
18 of 39 Figure 15. Proportion of White students in west Mesa elementary-middle schools ('96) Figure 16. Proportion of White students in west Mesa middle-high schools ('96) Canyon is situated in the northern part of the Glen dale Elementary District, and thus close to the Peoria District border. But under the assumption that Copper Canyon enrolled the majority of its students from the dist rict in which it is located, the Glendale Elementary District is the appropriate comparison g roup. Indeed, it is quite plausible that parents from the Glendale District elected not to e nroll their children in one of the several district schools but instead enrolled them in the charter located within their district. If not for the anomalous Franklin public sc hools in Figure 15, one could rather easily confirm ethnic separation on the part of Mes a Arts Academy. So termed "anomalous" because the Franklin West and 7&8 schoo ls (which are located on the same site) enrolled an extraordinarily high percentage o f White students given their location in an ethnically mixed area. The census tract whichencompasses Franklin West, Franklin 7&8, and Mesa A rts Academy was 37% White in 1995. The census tract tha t encompasses Arizona Career Academy, Intelli-School,Heritage Academy, and Mesa Vista High School was 59 % White. How could the Franklin public schools be so White in an area that was predominantly ethnic minority? For one, the Mesa School District open enrollment policy all ows parents to choose among public schools, and the prestigious Franklin schools are a n especially popular choice. There is a distinct lofty status attached to these schools, an d it has been said by more than one individual that they are similar to private schools At least in part, this explains how a public school that is 80-90% White is located in a neighborhood that is principally ethnic minority. In essence, the Franklin schools a ppear to contribute to ethnically separating students; however, they are an aberratio n among the public schools in that area. The remaining public schools are (more) ethni cally representative of the community in which the charter school academies res ide. Removing the anomalous Franklin schools for the moment, the comparison between Mesa Arts Academy charter school and its im mediate public school neighbors (71% White to 46% and 29% White) strongly suggests ethnic separation. The Sequoia charter school is treated separately in Figure 18. In Figure 16, it is difficult to assess the degree of ethnic separation on the part of some of the charters because the two nearest public comparison high schools, which exhibit disparate levels of White enrollment, are l ocated well to either side of the cluster of charter schools. Slightly over two miles to the west is Westwood High (63% White, 2451 students) and four miles to the east (not shown) is Mesa High (75% Whi te, 2714 students). Actually, the closest high school i s Mesa Vista High School, but this is a small alternative school, and thus perhaps not the best comparison. Due to their high proportions of White stud ents, assessing the degree of ethnic separation was less of a problem for two of the charter high schools. The la rgest charter high school in the group, Heritage Academy (95%), was more White than Mesa Vi sta High (41%), Westwood High (63%), and Mesa High (75%). Intelli-School (73 %) was more White than Mesa Vista High (41%) and Westwood High (63%). The Benjamin Franklin Charter School in Mes a enrolled 244 students in grades
19 of 39 Figure 17. Proportion of White students in northwest Mesa elementary schools ('96) K-4; virtually all students were White (see Figure 17). The nearest public school, the Lehi School, is less than three-fourths of a mile a way. It served 755 students in grades K-6, of which 56% wer e White. The next nearest public elementary schoolsequidistantly flank Benjamin Franklin (Whitman Scho ol and MacArthur School). These schools were 54% and 92%White, respectively. A discrepancy of this magnitud e between two comparison schools seemingly of equalcomparative value was cause for further exploration Given the close proximity of the Lehi and B enjamin Franklin schools, an inspection of their enrollments over time seemed fitting. Tabl e 9 presents enrollments by selected ethnicities for both schools over a five-year perio d.Table 9 Enrollment Trends by Selected Ethnicities for Neigh boring Public and Charter SchoolsLehi Public School (P-6) 19931994199519961997No. White497486456426415No. Hisp101100130139118No. Am Ind156157174175159% White 64%64%59%56%59%No. Students 781761779755704 Benjamin Franklin Charter (K-4) a) 19931994199519961997No. White----------147235226No. Hisp ----------649No. Am Ind----------011% White --------93%96% 91%No. Students---------158244248 a) Opened in Fall of 1995 The numbers of Hispanics and American India ns remained relatively stable across the five years. The number of Whites at Lehi change d little from 1993 to 1994, but after 1994, a declining trend emerged. The number of Whit e students dropped from 486 in 1994 (the year prior to the opening of the charter school) to 426 in 1996. This decline in the number and percentage of White students was con comitant with the opening of a 93% White charter school less than three-fourths of a mile away. Although the decline in White students at Lehi does not account for the num ber of Whites that attended Benjamin Franklin, there is cause for suspicion. A phone call to the Lehi School contact person confirmed that Lehi has lost students to Ben jamin Franklin. Incidentally, the number of White students enrolled at MacArthur was the same in
20 of 39 Figure 19. Proportion of White students in central Chandler schools ('96) Figure 18. Proportion of White students in central Mesa schools ('96) 1997 as it was in 1995. This is perhaps indicative of an absence of migration of White students to Benjamin Franklin (a finding that furth er erodes MacArthur's comparative value). Ninety percent of students at the K-12 Sequ oia School were White (see Figure 18). Proximal schools enrolled a far lower percentage of White students (on the order of 15% to 60% lower). In an attempt to find evidence that White students migrated to Sequoia from nearby public schools, Keller School enrollmen ts were analyzed over time (see Table 10). (Only 1996 ADE d ata was available for Sequoia.) Most notable from Table 10 is the decline in the number of White students at Keller, especial ly the precipitous drop between 1996 and 1997. The number of Hispanic students enrolled at Keller remained stabl e across the five-year period. It remains uncertain whether this apparent "White flight" flew in the direction of Sequoia. Wh at is clear, however, is that Sequoia is disproportionately Whit e relative to surrounding public schools.Table 10 Keller School (P-6) Enrollment Trends by Selected Ethnicities 19931994199519961997 No. White660654 628 606 533 No. Hisp 182 170 181 182 195 % White74% 75% 71% 69% 67% No. Students892 875 881 874 797 Figure 19 shows two charter schools that en roll vastly different proportions of White students. Ethnic min ority students participated in the Carmel Community Arts charter s chools at about half the rate at which they participated in t he PPEP TEC vocational school. PPEP TEC charter school served a higher per centage of ethnic minority students than the nearest tradition al public high school by 17%. In contrast, the Carmel Community Ar ts charter school enrolled a far higher percentage of White students as compared to the four nearby traditional public schools (82% compared to 36%, 24%, 63%, and 9% Whit e). Matched Comparisons Table 11 presents the results of the matche d comparison analysis. The matched pairs are listed in descending order of the difference in the percentage of White students. Of the 55 matched pairs, 30 charter schools were more White than their public comparison school by an average of 27 percentage points. Twent y of these were 15 (or greater) percentage points more White than their public scho ol neighbor. In contrast, only 2 public comparison schools enrolled more than 15 percentage points more White students than the matched charter school. Furthermore, after removing the ten pairs o f schools in which ethnic separation could not occur (e.g., schools located in census tr acts that were 90% or more White), the
21 of 39trend toward ethnic separation becomes even more ap parent. Instead of 20 of 55 (or 36%) charters that were 15% or more White than their pub lic comparison school, the proportion increases to 20 of 47 (or 43%).Table 11 Difference in Percent White for Matched Pairs of Metro Phoenix Schools (n=55)Nearest Public School(s) Charter School % WhiteNo. Stu.% WhiteNo. Stu.Level Difference % White 12%138082%51EL70%25%245889%237MS-HS64%34%41989%74EL55%41%24895%281MS-HS54%43%91390%186EL-MS47%22%91667%137EL-MS45%25%251766%89HS41%56%75596%244EL40%43%91383%41EL40%22%101360%91EL-MS38%50%106483%113MS33%41%24873%40HS32%64%465790%752K1226%56%474982%57K1226%41%24866%190HS25%25%245850%10HS25%67%140487%226EL-MS20%11%335730%27HS19%52%135970%295HS18%76%122391%262HS15%75%60889%36EL14%25%245838%32HS13%76%37186%174EL10%76%86085%176EL9%85%108192%297EL-MS7%77%296383%75HS6%93%72098%83MS 5%a89%102993%109MS-HS 4%a80%492582%386K122%92%75893%126EL 1%a
22 of 3993%138593%137EL-MS 0%a88%181388%455EL-MS0%84%190884%152EL-MS0% 1%3271%69EL0% 88%326187%175MS-HS-1% 3%7122%247K12-1% 25%251723%43HS-2%10%39457%381K12-3% 4%1701%270EL-MS-3% 93%74588%169EL -5%a68%81263%57EL-5%25%251720%125HS-5%93%283887%127MS-HS-6%80%76774%73EL-MS-6%88%69381%68MS -7%a88%49379%77EL-MS-9%84%85175%150EL-MS-9%89%88679%97EL-10%81%59171%115EL-MS-10%93%183182%100EL-MS -11%a93%71382%44EL -11%a83%108070%233HS-13%17%6234%269EL-MS-13%63%270646%81HS-17%90%518367%30K12-23%a Charter school located in 1995 census tract greate r than 90% White To examine these matched comparison data ye t another way, the schools were grouped into three categories: schools greater than or equal to 70% White, schools less than or equal to 30% White, and those schools falli ng in between (see Tables 12 and 13). Clearly, these data show charter schools are more W hite than the public comparison group. Twenty-six of the public schools were equal to or greater than 70% White, compared to 38 of the charter schools. That is, two -thirds of the charter schools in metropolitan Phoenix were predominantly White; less than half of the public schools were predominantly White. Described in terms of stu dents, 75% (6493/8676) of the students in metropolitan Phoenix charter schools we re in schools that were 70% or more White. In comparison, only 45% (39576/87439) of the students in the public comparison group were in schools 70% or more White. Lastly, looking at Table 13 in isolation, t he average sized charter school for the more integrated group (i.e., between 30% and 70% White) is well below half the average sized charter in either of the more segregated groups. Re lative to students in the public comparison schools, charter students were more like ly to be found in ethnically
23 of 39concentrated schools.Table 12 Metropolitan Phoenix Traditional Public Schools% WhiteNo. StudentsNo. Schools(a)Avg. Size < 30% 27,368 15 1,440 30%-70% 20,49514 1,079 > 70% 39,576 26 1,015 Totals87,439 55 1,136a) In instances where the charter school served a w ide grade range (e.g., K-12), multiple traditional public schools w ere combined to serve as the comparison school. In these cases, eth nic percentages were weighted according to size of school.Table 13 Metropolitan Phoenix Charter Schools% White No. StudentsNo. Schools Avg. Size < 30% 1,404 7 201 30%-70% 744 10 77 > 70% 6,493 38 171 Totals8,641 55 157 Educational Mission and Ethnicity The educational missions of 22 metropolitan Phoenix charter schools that served grades 9-12 were identified as either college prep (n=12) or voc-ed (n=10). (There were 25 secondary charter schools in all, but the missio n of two schools was unclear and a reservation school was removed.) The high schools f ell fairly naturally into voc-ed schools that were predominantly Hispanic and colleg e prep academies that were largely White. The 12 charter schools with college-bound cu rricula enrolled a total of 1,865 students, 86% (1,601) of which were White. The 10 v oc-ed charter schools served a total of 1,635 students, 62% (1,012) of which were ethnic minority. Consequently, the proportion of White students in urban, college-boun d charter high schools was well over two times the proportion of White students in urban noncollege-bound charter high schools.Rural Small Town Charters Looking at small towns in toto, there were 57 charter schools, 17 of which were under conditions that precluded ethnic separation. That is, they were either in ethnically homogeneous towns (e.g., Douglas--nearly 100% Hispa nic, Nogales--nearly 100% Hispanic, Payson--nearly 100% White, and the like), or reservation schools, or insignificantly small schools. Of the remaining 40 charter schools in small towns with a
24 of 39 variety of ethnic groups present, 18 showed signifi cant segregation either into White college prep academies or Montessori elementary sch ools or voc-ed high schools. Six more appeared to be contributing to ethnic separati on, and four more very small schools might contribute to segregation as well. Thus, a to tal of 28 rural charter schools out of 40 exhibited some degree of ethnic segregation. Educational Mission and Ethnicity Eight of the eleven rural charter high scho ols in Table 14 can be loosely classified as either voc-ed or college prep schools. The six voced high schools are seen to be on average 11% more Hispanic than the traditional high school (or schools) in the same town. The two college prep academies are seen to be on average 20% more White than the traditional high school (or schools) in the sam e town.Table 14 1996 Ethnic Compositions of Rural Charter and Tradi tional Public SchoolsTownTypeLevel aNo. Stu. % White % Hisp % AmInd. School (range % White) HS Mission AvondaleTrad. Charter HS HS 3793 103 53% 27% 37% 69% 2% 0% 2 schools (52%-54%) PPEP TEC voc-ed BisbeeTrad. Charter HS HS 477 42 54% 26% 45% 64% 0% 7% 1 school PPEP TEC voc-ed Bullhead City Trad. Charter EL EL 2662 72 71% 96% 26% 3% 1% 0% 4 schools (63%-86%) Young Scholars Casa GrandeTrad. Charter EL EL 3962 15 40% 73% 47% 20% 7% 0% 8 schools (17%-62%) American Grade Trad. Charter HS HS 2198 65 44% 35% 38% 57% 14% 3% 1 school PPEP TEC voc-ed ClarkdaleTrad. Charter EL-MS MS-HS 396 117 74% 90% 9% 6% 16% 3% 1 school Heritage Academy college CoolidgeTrad. Charter MS MS 466 60 36% 22% 36% 27% 18% 42% 1 school McCray Academy El MirageTrad. Charter MS MS 618 15 18% 73% 77% 7% 0% 0% 1 school Bennett Acad. West ElginTrad. Charter EL EL-MS 115 20 88% 100% 12% 0% 0% 0% 1 school Sonita Charter
25 of 39 FlagstaffTrad. CharterCharterCharterCharterCharter EL-MS ELELELEL-MSEL-MS 7953 150 23965646 62% 87% 100% 96%79%89% 16% 5%0%1%9%2% 18% 6%0%3%7%2% 13 schools (20%-84%) Pine Forest CharterMontessori Sunny.Flagstaff Jr. Acad.MontessoriMontessori Trad. Charter HS HS 3141 117 65% 84% 13% 6% 19% 7% 3 schools (58%-74%) Flagstaff Arts college KingmanTrad. Charter EL-MS EL-MS 5193 353 87% 93% 9% 5% 2% 0% 9 schools (77%-91%) Kingman Academy Lake HavasuTrad. Charter MS-HS MS-HS 2729 99 88% 95% 9% 5% 1% 0% 2 schools (87%-88%) Lake Havasu Chrt. voc-ed PageTrad. Charter EL EL 1417 138 26% 72% 2% 1% 72% 26% 2 schools (20%-32%) Lake Powell Acad. PrescottTrad. CharterCharterCharter EL ELEL-MSEL-MS 2250 103148129 86% 90%93%95% 10% 3%3%2% 3% 0%1%2% 7 schools (62%-91%) Franklin PhoneticAZ MontessoriSkyview School Trad. CharterCharter MS-HS MS-HSMS-HS 2946 36 547 91% 94%77% 6% 0%6% 6% 3% 15% 3 schools (87%-95%) Mingus Mt. Acad.Excel Ed. Ctr. unclearunclear Queen Creek Trad. Charter EL-HS EL 1370 278 56% 91% 42% 5% 1% 3% 4 schools (52%-63%) Ben Franklin Chrt. SaffordTrad. CharterCharter EL ELEL 1061 4961 44% 96%25% 43% 2% 72% 1% 0%0% 2 schools (51%-56%) Triumphant Learn.Los Milagros St. JohnsTrad. Charter EL-MS EL-MS 743 52 62% 90% 29% 8% 9% 0% 2 schools (61%-62%) Discovery Academy YumaTrad. CharterCharterCharter HS HSHSHS 7543 739934 31% 15%13%21% 64% 79%77%71% 2% 1%1%1% 4 schools (25%-33%) The Learning Ctr.Ed. Opport. Ctr.Success School no datavoc-edvoc-ed a EL = elementary, MS = middle school, HS = high scho olSummary of Urban and Rural Charter Schools In total, the ethnic compositions of 112 of the 132 charter schools that reported data to ADE in 1996 were compared to nearby public schoo ls. Fifty-five urban charters and 57 rural charters were examined. Ten urban and 17 rura l charters were located in areas that were so homogeneous (or were reservation schools, o r were extraordinarily small
26 of 39 schools) that ethnic separation was unlikely to occ ur, reducing the total number of charters that could potentially segregate to 85. Detailed lists of charter schools are prese nted in Tables 15 and 16. They are grouped into three categories: those that contributed to et hnic separation and those that were suspect of contributing (see Table 15), and those t hat did not (including those that simply were not eligible) (see Table 16). In all, 46% (21 urban, 18 rural) of the cha rter schools exhibited evidence of substantial ethnic separation. Adding those that we re suspect of ethnic stratification raises the percentage to 61% (24 urban, 28 rural).Table 15 1996 Charter Schools Contributing to Ethnic Separat ion No.Stu. SignificantEthnic SeparationSource No. Stu. Suspect Ethnic SeparationSource 74 Meadowbrook Villa Mont.Figure 1233 Gateway Community HSFigure 7 41Campbell Villa Mont.Figure 191Copper Canyon Acad. Figure 13 186Villa Montessori MainFigure 1 40Intelli-School # 3Figure 14b 51Khlasa Montessori Phx Figure 215American Grade Sc hool Table RT 270Future Devel. & Perform.Figure 315Bennett Academ y WestTable RT 269ATOP AcademyFigure 3b20Sonita Charter Table 14237AZ School for the ArtsFigure 323Montessori Sunny .Table 14 89Intelli-School PhxFigure 3 353Kingman AcademyTabl e 14 247Teen Choice Leadership Figure 5 99Lake Havasu Ch arter Table 14 137ABC Alt. Learning Figure 6103 Franklin Phonetic Table 14 226Scottsdale HorizonsFigure 8148AZ Montessori Tabl e 14 36Villa Montessori Scot.Figure 8129Skyview SchoolTa ble 14 262New School for the ArtsFigure 9 547Excel Ed. Ctr .Table 14 174Montessori Day Public Figure 10 113Tempe Prep AcademyFigure 11295AZ Career Acad. TempeFigure 12 281Heritage Academy Figure 14ab115Mesa Arts AcademyFigure 14ab752Sequoia School Figure 14ab 244Benjamin Franklin MesaFigure 15 57Carmel Commun. ArtsFigure 1781PPEP TEC Chandler Figure 17 103PPEP TEC Avondale Table 14 42PPEP TEC BisbeeTable 14 72Young ScholarsTable 1465PPEP TEC Casa GrandeTable 14 117Heritage Academy Clark. Table 14 60McCray AcademyTable 14 150Pine Forest CharterTable 14 96Flagstaff Jr. AcademyTable 1456Montessori Table 14
27 of 39 46MontessoriTable 14 117Flagstaff Arts Table 14138Lake PowellTable 14 278Benjamin Franklin QCTable 14 49Triumphant LearningTable 14 61Los MilagrosTable 1452Discovery AcademyTable 1473The Learning Ctr. Table 14 99Ed. Opport. Ctr. Table 14 Table 16 1996 Charter Schools Not Contributing to Ethnic Sep aration (Including Ineligible Charters) No. Stu.Charter SchoolSource/Type 69 Tertulia Fig 3 43 Success SchoolFig 3, 4 125 Call-A-Teen CenterFig 3, 4 32 Mesa Learning Ctr.Fig 410 Acad. Of LifelongFig 4 381 Esperanza Mont.Fig 5 27 Victory High School Fig 573 EdupreneurshipFig 8 190 AZ Career Acad. Mesa Fig 14b 57 Ecotech Agricultural urban75 Intelli-School #2urban 176 Bright Beginningsurban386 Horizon Charterurban150 AZ Montessori Glen. urban152 Montessori Ed. Ctr. urban297 Edu-Prize urban 30 Altern. Learning Chrt.urban77 Challenge Charterurban68 Bennett Academy*urban 175 International Studies*urban455 Valley Academy Inc.*urban 97 Horizon Chrt. Perf. Artsurban 109 Kachina Jr/Sr High*urban169 Kachina Elem.*urban137 Ventana Academic* urban126 Casy Country Day*urban100 Dragonfleye*urban 44 Gan Yeladeem*urban 127 Life School College Prep urban 83 Foothills Academy* urban
28 of 39 36 Mingus Mt. AcademyTable 1434 Yuma Success School Table 1418 American Grade Sch. AJ rural52 Ashfork Middle School**rural44 San Luis Success School*rural25 Somerton Success Schoolrural 8Sedona Learning***rural 72 Mingus Springs C.V.*rural65 Ctr. For Acad. Success* rural81 PPEP TEC Douglas*rural 387 Greasewood Springs Gan.*rural131 Hotevilla Bacav.*rural494 Hopi Jr/Sr High K.C.*rural110 Gila Crossing Charter*rural 48 PPEP TEC Maranarural 129 Pimeria Alta Learning.*rural 43 Payson Ctr. for Success*rural60 PPEP TEC San Luis*rural 108 Sedona Charterrural667 Shonto Charter* rural 82 Northern AZ Acad. SL*rural70 Center for Acad.rural 150 PPEP TEC Sierra Vista rural 45 PPEP TEC Somerton rural18 Round Valley Alt. Chrt.rural37 Northern AZ Acad.Tayl.rural 461 Greyhills Academy* rural525 Tol-Chii'kooh Chrt.*rural 63 Northern AZ Acad. Win. rural Located in ethnically homogeneous region ** No analogouscomparison school*** Insignificantly smallDiscussion and Conclusions A critical assumption of the map analysis i s that charter schools enroll their students from surrounding or nearby neighborhoods. This assumption permitted comparisons to proximal public schools, which, unli ke charter schools, must adhere to specific attendance boundaries. How can one safely make this assumption when there are no attendance boundaries for charters? The reality is that students do not travel that far to attend charter schools. In 1997, only two charter schools provided transportation. N either do many charter schools provide funding for transportation, and if they do, it is so modest and inconvenient (e.g., public transit passes) as to discourage large numbe rs from commuting. The $174 per pupil per year that charter schools receive from th e state for transportation--regardless of its provision--simply does not amount to enough mon ey for the small charter schools to sponsor transportation for their students.
29 of 39 Moreover, the maximum distances parents are willing to commute naturally bound their catchment areas. Indeed, there is empirical s upport for this claim. Under the Scotland choice program, parents considered the dis tance students must travel as a major part of their decision (Adler, Petch, & Tweedie, 19 89). Correspondingly, parents in the Alum Rock, California voucher experiment were more concerned with proximity than with curriculum content when selecting schools (Bri dge & Blackman, 1978). Discussion The national and state evaluations which re port that Arizona charter schools serve a proportion of ethnic minority students at a level c onsistent with or greater than the traditional public schools are off the mark. Their methods produce numbers and percentages in the aggregate, techniques that conce al potential evidence of ethnic separation at the level at which it should be measu red. The general picture of ArizonaÂ’s charter schools is that they are significantly more segregated than the traditional public schools. They not only contain a substantially grea ter proportion of White students, but when comparable nearby traditional public schools a re used for comparison, the charters are typically 20 percentage points higher in White enrollment than the other publics. Moreover, the charters that have a majority of ethn ic minority students enrolled in them tend to be either voc-ed secondary schools that do not lead to college or schools of last resort for students being expelled from the traditi onal public schools system. A good deal of Arizona charter schools pres ent scenarios that lend credence to references of charters as "creaming" or "skimming" agents. Consider, for example, that four of the six non-reservation charter schools in the affluent and highly White city of Scottsdale were positioned in its least prosperous and most ethnically mixed neighborhoods--and three of these schools were more White than proximal public schools. Moreover, a handful of charter schools cat ered to particular minority groups. Consider that in 1996 three charter schools account ed for the majority of all Black charter students. Exclusionary Influences Although Arizona's charter schools are requ ired to admit all students for whom they have room, there is some degree of selectivity. Man y charters exclusively target at-risk students or students who excel in the arts. To a si gnificant degree, the shared characteristics by which students are presumably gr ouped extend beyond academic interest and ability, and toward ethnic background. Charters are required to maintain waiting l ists that are moderated on a first-come-first-served basis. The waiting lists co nvey a notion of fairness and randomness about student admissions, but this notio n loses its value as students on these lists become more ethnically homogeneous. The fairn ess of waiting lists occurs in a vacuum, and applies only to those who choose to be on them. Other subtle exclusionary practices that ca n vary across charters include charter-initiated parent contracts and the provisio n of transportation. Both shift costs on to parents, costs which not every parent can afford The social consequences of choice in educat ion are mediated by the policies under which choice operates. Depending on the degree of p ublic oversight, choice can serve contradictory purposes. Consider two extreme scenar ios. Under regulated conditions, choice can correct for severe levels of segregation and ensure the stable integration of schools (e.g., controlled open enrollment plans, ma gnet programs). Minneapolis,
30 of 39Minnesota and Cambridge, Massachusetts endorse such policies. Conversely, unregulated choice can intensify ethnic stratificat ion by allowing parents to remove their children from integrated schools (e.g., White fligh t). Arizona's laissez-faire charter legislation appears to fall in this latter group. C harter laws in other states include explicit nondiscriminatory requirements. For instance, chart er legislation in California and Minnesota require ethnic enrollment quotas (Brock-N elson, 1998). It comes as no surprise, then, that charter schools in these state s are less ethnically concentrated than Arizona charter schools. The ethnic separation on the part of Arizon a'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 doc umented that choosers (in this case, charter students and parents) differ from non-choos ers in several meaningful ways, which further contributes to the stratification of students along ethnic and socioeconomic lines. Finally, many charter schools are newly cre ated institutions, which not only allow for parents (primarily of White students) to escape racial integration but also allow for the founders of the fledgling schools to orchestrat e the escape plan. Before dismissing such a statement as conspiratorial supposition, one should consider that by far the most common form of charter school advertisement and rec ruitment is word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth communication tends to remain within homogeneous groups. Ethnic Separation and Equity Libertarians and political conservatives al ike challenge democratic notions of equality of opportunity; for them, freedom of choic e is the basis for an equitable system. Beneath this ideological tenet lies less of an atte mpt to reduce the gap in resources between the advantaged and disadvantaged and more o f attempt to promote the rights of the individual. There is a tradeoff, however, betwe en the freedom to choose and the assurance of equality of opportunity. Separate but equal has not worked in the past, and it is doubtful that it will work now. The claim by choice advocates that charters equalize educational opportunity by offering minority students options previously avail able to more advantaged (White) students does not stand up very well to the evidenc e here. Although it is true that many ethnic minorities are well represented by several c harter schools, most are in voc-ed schools and atrisk schools of last resort. This i s not to say that all of the at-risk and voc-ed charter schools do children a disservice. It is probably the case that several of these schools serve students better than their form er public schools. Similarly, this is not to say that all the non-voc-ed, nonat-risk ethnoc entric charter schools are poorly serving students. It could be argued that minoritie s are using the charter vehicle for some interesting and worthwhile purposes. However, thoug h some students undoubtedly benefit, the majority probably do not. Students in segregated schools lose out on the well documented academic and social benefits of integration. Beyond, and perhaps underlying, the educational benefits of integrated schools is a balance of political sup port. Ethnic and class-based separation polarizes the political interests which look out fo r neighborhood schools, which results in further disparities in resources, quality of tea chers, number of supportive parents, and the like. Schools without political support struggl e, and the students suffer commensurately.
31 of 39Conclusions These analyses were undertaken to discover the existence of a phenomenon, if it existed. They were not undertaken to attach a singl e descriptive number to the degree of ethnic separation in the entire State of Arizona. N or do these analyses address in the most definitive ways possible the motives, mechanis ms or reasons for ethnic separation in charter schools. Such determinations must await the findings of other research, differently conceived and differently executed. Thi s said, it is not our intention to gainsay the value and importance of the analyses he re performed. They may be found, in spite of their limitations, to be adequate to serve as the basis for legal action under the Civil Rights Act, for example. Beyond any legal accountability, do not cha rters have the responsibility to their parents and students (on academic and social ground s) to offer a diverse community of learners? Do they not have the civic obligation to achieve in their schools the ethnic representation of their community, given they are s chools of choice with no local attendance boundaries to confine their ethnic compo sitions? Public schools are not necessarily held to this same standard (except in i nstances of court-ordered desegregation or district-initiated racial balance improvement plans), but neither are they under the same rules of choice. The degree of ethnic separation in Arizona schools is large enough and consistent enough to warrant concern among education policymak ers. But in what ways should the state intervene in cases of de facto segregation? G iven the political milieu, it is doubtful that Arizona would legislate racial quotas similar to those in Cambridge and Minneapolis. At the very least, charter schools sho uld be required to actively pursue ethnic representation. Legislation should mandate t hat charters delineate and put into practice strategies to attract ethnically diverse s tudents. We have entrusted the courts to insure equality of opportunity and to remedy any ex isting inequalities, and this is perhaps where to turn if the executive and legislat ive branches fail to act. The Arizona charter experiment should proceed with caution, bec ause if left unchecked as it is now, we will likely see even greater ethnic stratificati on of the public school system.ReferencesAdler, M., Petch, A., & Tweedie, J. (1989). Parental choice and educational policy Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Arizona Department of Education. ("n.d."). Instructions for required reports: Replaces the uniform system of financial reporting--Section V Phoenix, AZ: Arizona Department of Education. Author.Arizona Department of Education. (1997). Charter schools handbook Phoenix, AZ: Arizona Department of Education. Author.Becker, H. J., Nakagawa, K. & Corwin, R. G. (1995, April). Parent involvement contracts in California's charter schools: Strategy for educational improvement or method of exclusion? Los Alamitos, CA: Southwest Regional Laboratory Oc casional Paper.Bosetti, L. (1995, November). Charter schools in Alberta. Paper presented at Charting a
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36 of 39 About the AuthorsCasey D. CobbDepartment of EducationUniversity of New Hampshire Durham, NH (603) 862-2048 email@example.com Ph.D. Arizona State University, 1998M.S. University of Maine, Orono, 1995B.A. Harvard University, 1989Casey Cobb is an Assistant Professor of Education a t the University of New Hampshire where he teaches courses in research methods, asses sment, statistics, and policy. He spent three years in Arizona while pursuing a Ph.D. in Education Policy at Arizona State University. His interests include education policy, school reform, and telecommunications.Gene V GlassCollege of EducationArizona State UniversityTempe, AZ 85287-0211 (602) 965-9644 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org B.A. University of Nebraska, 1962M.S. University of Wisconsin, 1963Ph.D. University of Wisconsin, 1965Gene Glass is Associate Dean for Research in the Co llege of Education at Arizona State University. He is a Professor in the Division of Ed ucational Leadership & Policy Studies of the College. His personal homepage is at http://olam.ed.asu.edu/~gene/ .Copyright 1999 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesThe World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is http://epaa.asu.edu General questions about appropriateness of topics o r particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, email@example.com or reach him at College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-0211. (602-965-96 44). The Book Review Editor is Walter E. Shepherd: firstname.lastname@example.org The Commentary Editor is Casey D. Cobb: email@example.com
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