The National Education Policy Center just released a research report from William J. Mathis and Kevin G. Welner on the question, "Do Choice Policies Segregate Schools?"
Spoiler alert-- the short answer is "Yes."
A review of the research and literature led Mathis and Welner to conclude that while some choice schools are integrated, charters largely are very segregated. That segregation can be by race, poverty, dual language learners (ELL), and students with disabilities. While black students are generally either under-represented or over-represented in charter schools, the researchers found that poor, ELL, and students with disabilities are under-enrolled in charter schools. Within a choice system, both segregation and the achievement gap grow.
However, before charter foes leap on those results, there is this to be considered:
Even without school choice, America's schools would be shockingly segregated, in large part because of housing policies and school district boundaries. School choice policies that do not have sufficient protections against unconstrained, segregative choices do exacerbate the problem.
In other words, charter-choice systems may be making things worse, but they certainly didn't create the problem. Or to put it yet another way, when anti-charter folks say that charters are creating massive segregation problems, they are correct. And when charter fans say that housing-based choice is creating segregation problems, they are also correct.
There may be valid arguments in favor of some charters in some situations, but the "we will fix segregation and close the achievement gap" argument is not one of them. Charters clearly do neither of those things.
Public schools aren't getting it done, either. But in order to look for real solutions, we need to stop pretending that fake solutions are actually working.