Selected readings on US charter schools
This week, this column looks at the charters.
After gathering data on the 2013-2014 school enrollments by race/ethnicity in our city/county, some new and revealing statistics on Indianapolis’ charter schools emerged.
First, and critically important, whether you like them or not, charter schools have become a critical part of public education in Indianapolis/Marion County.
The 38 charter schools located within the city/county have become Indianapolis’ second largest school district, behind the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS). Some 23,315 students attend charter schools based in Indianapolis.
But there’s a caveat.
Two charter schools “headquartered” in Indy are virtual schools. Chartered by the Indiana Charter School Board, the Hoosier Academies Virtual Charter School and Indiana Connections Academy are virtual schools. They have no classrooms in our city/county. Students enrolled in these schools can literally live anywhere in Indiana.
The enrollment of these two virtual schools is 7,686. No one knows exactly how many of those 7,686 students live in our city/county. A good guess might be the majority don’t.
As a result the 23,315 figure for total charter school enrollment in Indianapolis must be discounted.
If I remove the two virtual charters from the list, total enrollment in 36 charter schools in Indianapolis totals 15,629. The third largest district in the city, behind IPS and Wayne Township.
If you include the enrollment of the virtual charters, non-Hispanic whites comprise 43.1 percent of charter enrollment, followed by African-Americans at 37 percent and Hispanics at 10 percent.
When I remove the virtual charters from the mix, Blacks comprise 50.8 percent of Indy’s charter students, non-Hispanic whites 24.4 percent and Hispanics 12.4 percent.
Twenty-six of Indianapolis’ 38 charter schools are operated by the mayor of Indianapolis. The others are operated by either the Indiana Charter School Board or Ball State University.
Of the non-virtual charters not run by the mayor, 76 percent of their students are non-Hispanic white, 28.6 percent are Black and 11.4 percent are Hispanic.
But of the charters run by the mayor’s office, 57.5 percent of their students are Black, 15.5 percent non-Hispanic white and 13.5 percent Hispanic.
Some 6,173 African-Americans are enrolled in the mayor’s charter schools out of a total enrollment of 10,742. The mayor’s charters have the third largest enrollment of Black students of any Indianapolis school district, after IPS and Pike Township.
All charters, including virtual charters, have the second largest Black enrollment after IPS.
As a group, the mayor’s charter schools are the city’s third Black-majority school district, with a higher percentage of Black students than Pike and ahead of IPS. Yet, Blacks are conspicuously absent in the top echelon of supervisory leadership over the mayor’s charter schools.
Neither the deputy mayor for education nor the head of the mayor’s charter schools are African-American. And I don’t believe there’s an African-American in a significant policy decision-making position with the city’s Office of Education Innovation.
Neither do African-Americans hold significant decision making positions with the Indiana Charter School Board or with Ball State’s Office of Charter Schools.
Despite the significant disagreements and concerns our African-American community has with the concept of charter schools, we must now accept the fact that in Indiana’s largest city, charter schools aren’t a fad anymore. They’re as significant a factor at educating all children, especially educating African-American children, as any of the city’s major school districts.
The school districts in Indianapolis with the highest percentage of African-American students have African-Americans in top policy positions in those districts.
We must demand that the other Indy school district that’s Black-majority, Mayor Ballard’s charter schools, also have inclusionary leadership.
Source: Indianapolis Recoder – by Amos Brown