School Segregation, Charter Schools, and Access to Quality Education

John R. Logan & Julia Burdick-Will

Journal: Journal of Urban Affairs

Race, class, neighborhood, and school quality are all highly interrelated in the U.S. educational system. In the last decade a new factor has come into play, the option of attending a charter school. We offer a comprehensive analysis of the disparities among public schools attended by white, black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American children in 2010–2011, including all districts in which charter schools existed. We compare schools in terms of poverty concentration, racial composition, and standardized test scores, and we also examine how attending a charter or non-charter school affects these differences. Black and Hispanic (and to a lesser extent Native American and Asian) students attend elementary and high schools with higher rates of poverty than white students. Especially for whites and Asians, attending a charter school means lower exposure to poverty. Children’s own race and the poverty and charter status of their schools affect the test scores and racial isolation of schools that children attend in complex combinations. Most intriguing, attending a charter school means attending a better-performing school in high-poverty areas but a lower performing school in low-poverty areas. Yet even in the best case the positive effect of attending a charter school only slightly offsets the disadvantages of black and Hispanic students.

  • LOGAN, J., & BURDICK-WILL, J. (2015). SCHOOL SEGREGATION, CHARTER SCHOOLS, AND ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATION. Journal Of Urban Affairs, 38(3), 323-343. doi:10.1111/juaf.12246