A significant body of research indicates many programs of school choice, including both charter schools and private school vouchers, can have a segregative impact. (See goo.gl/eZhfM7). In light of the potential for school choice programs to exacerbate the already growing trend of student segregation, we urge the Department of Education to ensure all existing and new school choice grant programs receiving federal dollars include safeguards to prevent further isolation of our most vulnerable students, and to adopt measures ensuring grant proposals that have a positive effect on student integration will receive preference in funding.
We recommend the following guidelines for existing and new federal grant competitions as a method of ensuring federal funds to not aid the segregation of students by race, socioeconomic background, language ability, or disability status:
-- Existing and new grant competitions for school choice programs should place a priority on applicants that propose to increase integration along the lines of race, disability status, socioeconomic background, and language ability.
-- Existing and new grant competitions for school choice programs should include additional funding for tracking and reporting the impacts of federally funded interventions on both sending and receiving schools or districts with regard to student demographics, including but not limited to race, disability status, socioeconomic background, and language ability.
-- In analyzing impacts on “sending” schools and districts, the comparison to be made is between the demographics of students leaving, and students remaining in the school or district across each subgroup; for example, if the proportion of children with special needs is lower among moving children, the analysis would indicate that the transfers are having a concentrating or segregating effect on the sending school or district.
-- Grantees that cannot demonstrate an integrative or neutral impact on student demographics in sending and receiving schools or districts as a result of their school choice program, following a set period of time, will have an opportunity to assess and address shortcomings in their federally funded program. If grantees cannot demonstrate an integrative or neutral impact on the next review of their intervention, further federal funding should be withheld.