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SMC Letter to the Editor: Charter Schools Failing on Integration

Monday May 25, 2015
We are writing to applaud the witty and informative column by Colin McEnroe, “Stop Spending Money On Charter Schools.” However, there is another reason we should heed McEnroe’s advice — these institutions are not accomplishing the state’s decades-old mission of integrating our schools.

The landmark Sheff v. O’Neill decision compelled Connecticut to provide our children with a high-quality education in diverse classrooms. And according to a recent study by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, it’s working. While students in neighboring states are now in more segregated schools, Connecticut is doing comparably well at integrating our classrooms through magnet schools and Open Choice seats.

But our state’s charter schools are not keeping pace, in spite of a state law that requires new and existing charters to “achieve measurable progress in reducing racial, ethnic and economic isolation.” The state has apparently been ignoring this — at this month’s State Board of Education meeting, two highly segregated charters were approved for renewal without any conditions for reducing racial and economic isolation.

If charters are going to be heavily supported and resourced by the state, they should at least try to accomplish what the rest of the state has been working so hard to achieve — a high-quality, integrated education where students of all races, ethnicities and economic backgrounds have a chance to learn together.

Elizabeth Horton Sheff, Windsor, and John Humphries, Hartford 

The writers are the co-chair and outreach coordinator, respectively, for the Sheff Movement coalition. Ms. Sheff is the mother of the lead plaintiff in Sheff v. O’Neill, Milo Sheff.

Copyright © 2015, Hartford Courant

Link: http://www.courant.com/opinion/letters/hc-ugc-article-charter-schools-should-meet-integration-requi-2015-05-22-story.html