Think charter schools help minority students? Think again. A new University of Texas study shows that the state's African-American high school students are three times more likely to drop out from a charter system than from a regular public school. Unsurprisingly, charter groups are not happy about this research.
Julian Vasquez Heilig, assistant professor in the UT College of Education's Department of Educational Administration, sought to answer two very simple questions: Are these schools serving African-American kids, and are they effective at it? While many studies have looked at academic achievement, Heilig wanted to examine a different conundrum: Do these students stay? Do they feel welcome, relative to public schools?
The resulting paper, titled "Is Choice a Panacea?: An Analysis of Black Secondary School Attrition from KIPP, Other Privately Operated Charters, and Urban Districts," was presented April 15 at the American Educational Research Association's annual conference in Vancouver. Its findings about African-American high school students are alarming. Compared to large urban districts in Texas, said Heilig, "on average, charter schools have triple the dropout rates."