concerns about their relative compliance with established goals of racial and ethnic
integration and equal access for all students. According to the report by Connecticut
Voices for Children, many of Connecticut’s school choice programs fall short in advancing
the goal of racial and ethnic integration. In spite of state laws requiring charter
and magnet schools to reduce racial and ethnic isolation of students, only interdistrict
magnet schools are typically integrated, and a majority of the state’s charter schools
are highly segregated. The report also raises concerns about the underrepresentation
in school choice programs of students who do not speak English as a first language and
students with special education needs.
The report examines the demographics
of students in Connecticut’s
interdistrict school choice programs –
programs that permit parents to enroll
their children in schools outside their
local school districts. It focuses on
magnet, charter, and technical schools.
Among the key findings:
· While both charter and interdistrict
magnet schools are required by state
law to reduce racial and ethnic segregation
of students, only magnet schools
are held to a measurable standard – a
student body between 25% and 75% students of color. A majority of interdistrict magnet
schools (62%) meet this standard. By contrast, a majority of charter schools (65%)
are highly segregated, enrolling over 90% students of color. While technical schools
have no measurable integration standard, a majority (56%) would meet the requirement
for magnet schools.
· Students who do not speak English as a first language are under-represented in
Connecticut’s school choice programs, compared to the school districts of the towns
in which the programs are located. A majority of all interdistrict magnet, charter, and
technical schools enroll students identified as being English Language Learners (ELL)
at a substantially lower rate (five percentage points lower) than the local school districts
of the towns in which they are located.
To promote integration and equity in school choice programs, Connecticut Voices recommends
that state policymakers:
· Take into account the demographic differences between choice programs and local
public schools when drawing comparisons between them,
· Establish measurable desegregation standards for all choice programs, since these
standards appear to be effective in integrating magnet schools, and
· Investigate barriers to enrolling English Language Learners and special education
students in school choice programs, and take action to eliminate any such barriers.