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What the Data Show on School Choice and Segregation

Education Next – Greg Foster

“There are a number of serious methodological challenges involved in empirical research on how education policies affect ethnic segregation. I wrote about them at some length in a report for EdChoice a while back. For example, some data don’t permit causal conclusions; some methods of comparison are unfair because they compare elementary grades to secondary grades inappropriately. Reviewing all of the empirical research on school choice last year, I found that 10 studies had been conducted that examine the relationship between school choice and ethnic segregation in some respect. Some are causal, some descriptive; all shed some light on the question. Nine of those studies found that school choice provided a more integrated classroom experience, one found no visible difference, and no empirical study had ever found that a school choice program made ethnic segregation worse.”(more)

Schools Are Incredibly Segregated, But Teaching Kids In Two Languages Could Help

The Huffington Post – Rebecca Klein

“A walk through Heritage Elementary School in Woodburn, Oregon, can make you feel like you’re touring Europe. In one classroom, a group of third-graders learn to read in Spanish. In another, students recite multiplication tables in Russian. In other parts of the school, students are receiving instruction in English…It’s part of the Woodburn School District, which has an expansive dual-language program although the vast majority of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch…In the decade since the district enacted its dual-language program, the gap in graduation rates between Woodburn’s English language learners — or ELLs — and native English speakers has closed. Experts say that if implemented properly, dual language programs not only encourage students to appreciate other cultures as well as their own, but can even help desegregate districts where minority students and their white counterparts attend separate and unequal schools.”(more)

As Public School Integration Lags, School Choice May Be Best Hope

Education News – Ben Scafidi

“Since the turn of the Century, progress made in the integration of neighborhoods has outpaced integration in public schools, according to research…If neighborhoods are becoming more integrated yet public schools are not, then public education is no longer promoting the idea of America as a melting pot.. Americans are freely choosing to integrate their neighborhoods, their families and even their vote for President. Perhaps it is time to let them freely choose to integrate educational settings. Based on trends in segregation and on experiences in America and abroad, school choice may be the last best hope for promoting integration in American K-12 education. With a little care in policy design, school choice opportunities can promote integration and excellence—for all American children.”(more)