The Albert Shanker Institute recently released a report that analyzed the negative effects of private schools on integrated public education in Washington, D.C.
While only 15 percent of students in the nation’s capital attend private schools, 57 percent of white students do. Private schools essentially create the segregation equivalent of white flight to the suburbs, without the physical “flight.”
In America, socioeconomic status and race are highly correlated, and parents with means often choose private schools. A 2013 Friedman Foundation study found that parents cite a series of reasons: increased safety, better discipline, smaller class sizes, improved learning environments and more individual attention.
Urban public schools are usually hamstrung by centralized rules and budgeting, but many public charter schools can replicate the elements of a private school climate: Each school has the autonomy to craft its own culture. Public school choice can increase integration by income and race, as we argued in a recent column, and charters can also create “diverse-by-design” schools to attract parents of all races.
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