Is Segregation the New Black?

Closing the achievement gap requires any means necessary, even segregating minority students into special schools with all white teaching staffs.

Once upon a time there was something terrible in our nation’s schools called segregation. Reader: this separation of students into racial groups was viewed as a terrible scourge. In fact ending segregation in the public schools was viewed as so essential that it became the civil rights issue of our time.

I only bring up this *awkward* little trip down memory lane because in today’s upside down world of education rephorm, something rather strange has occurred. Whereas once segregation was seen as the enemy of educational progress,  today it is upheld by achievement gaptivists as a necessary solution to closing said achievement gap. That’s because the achievement gap is the civil rights issue of our time, and must be closed by any means necessary, even segregation, the former civil rights issue of our time.

Phans of charter schools and other achievement-gap closing necessities are fond of saying that they have figured out how to “crack the code” about the best way to reach the minority kids that our union-stifled public schools and their LIFO lifer teachers have failed. What they don’t say, though, is that their secret rephormer decoder rings activate hyper-segregated schools where students who are overwhelmingly minority are taught almost exclusively by young white teachers. Allow me to represent said cracking of code with a helpful mathematical equation—let’s call it the Education Rephormula 4 Success:

X (minority urban students) + Y (young, fresh white teachers) + H (high expectations) – L (low excuses) + T (test prep) + T (test prep) + T (test prep) + G (good posture) – A (attrition) – S (suspensions) = ⇈(rising test scores) + P (phawning press coverage) + N (infinite opportunities for expansion of excellence) which = $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

But enough “theory,” reader. Let’s move on to the data, shall we? It’s time now for a regular segment in which EduShyster takes publicly available charter school data and makes it available to the public. Today’s topic: student racial demographics at some of Boston’s finest charter academies of excellence and innovation.

School name                               Total student enrollment                   # of white students
Roxbury Prep Charter School               244                                                    0
Bridge Boston Charter School              74                                                      1
Smith Leadership Academy                  202                                                    1      
Edward Brooke Charter School 2         167                                                     2
Codman Academy Charter                   149                                                     3
City on a Hill Charter Public School      291                                                     4
Dorchester Collegiate Academy           110                                                     5
Edward Brook Charter School               470                                                    6
Boston Renaissance Charter               1,027                                                 12
MATCH Charter Public School              473                                                    12
Boston Preparatory Charter                  359                                                    15

Now all of these schools happen to be located in Boston where, as you no doubt know, the issue of race and education has caused some, ahem, problems in the past. Which is what makes it all the more remarkable that many of the same champions of integration 40 years ago now view increasing test scores as so important as to justify segregation.

Reader: it is an upside down rephormy world we are living in… Send comments to


  1. I was a principal in an overwhelmingly black elementary school where arou d 75% of the kids qualified to receive free lunch. It had the lowest scores in the district when I took over. Each time I had the opportunity to hire a new teacher I knew what would happen. I would be sent five or six people by HR to interview. I would be very impressed by the two teachers I placed at 1 and 2 in my list, less impressed by 3 and 4 and decidedly unimpressed by 5 and 6. In almost every case, guess who I would get? The teachers at the head of my list were being interviewed in other schools where the challenges were not so profound, where discipline was not a problem, where there was parental support. I would get 4 if I was lucky, but probably 5 or 6 – I needed somebody in front of the kids every day.
    I also had teachers who stayed and stayed. They were just competent, not bad enough to fire, but not good enough for the kids I had who needed the best teachers in the system. These teachers stayed because they knew they would never be selected in another school, unless it was another school like mine, when they would be the 4, 5 or 6 on the selection list. So they remained where they were.
    I had one or two teachers who were excellent and who wanted to be where they were and who made significant differences in the lives of the kids they taught. But I needed every teacher to be like that.
    We need incentives to ensure that every class in the most challenging schools has one of our best teachers. ‘Turnaround Principals’ will only make a difference when they have turnaround teachers.
    As we tinker with curriculum, standards and evaluation we are wasted precious time and resources because we are failing to look directly at the things that will make the biggest differences – our teachers. We need to revitalize teacher training, think again about how we select, train and remunerate teachers. In Finland (yes, I know, we are all sick of hearing about Finland) it is easier to get into medical school than it is to enter a primary education course at some of the major colleges.
    Why does Finland do so well? Because they have the best teachers who are given the freedom to teach as they deem appropriate, who are trusted and THEY DON’T TEST EVERYBODY UNTIL THEY LEAVE HIGH SCHOOL. Sure, they do some sample testing, but that is all.
    It’s teachers who make the difference, not computers, not curriculum, not documents filled with standards and certainly not standardized tests.

    1. Pat, I agree with alot of what you wrote – however, “we are failing to look directly at the things that will make the biggest differences – our teachers” is just not true. NCTQ, NTP, Studentsfirst, TFA, et al. oft cite this narrative, which IGNORES the epidemiological crisis our poor children face. NO EXCUSES! Out of 35 developed countries Finland has the second lowest child poverty rate at 5.3%. The US is the second highest at 23.1% In fact, in schools with less than 10% poverty the US ranks #1. Reinvigorating teacher prep is not going to sole this problem. Do you honestly think the teachers at charters or in affluent suburbs like Winchester are better? I contend that our teachers are indeed great, and the vast majority of teachers in poor districts dedicate our lives to the kids we serve. This idea that teacher quality is a problem is a well shouted myth. I submit that policy needs to be addressed in this country. During LBJ’s War on Poverty our country began to close economic achievement gaps. These policies are why we now have free breakfast programs (nutrition), early childhood education opportunities, and health programs (like dentists) in our poorer schools. However, these (and many other unmentioned) are not enough. We screen for vision, but the vast majority of “underperforming” kids who need glasses are NOT wearing them to school (break, get lost, not replaced, never get them). Here is policy reform #1: “Whereas the US military gives all recruits military issue GLASSES so that they might hit their KILL target more effectively – the US DOE will fund school districts so that all children attending public schools who need glasses will be issued glasses that stay in school so that they might actually be able to see the words and numbers that they are tested on.” I have a bunch more but you can hear it from the horses mouth – Dr. Charles Basch:

    2. I think what you may have needed more than you needed “great teachers” was more resources: that could have paid for more assistants and lower class sizes. You can’t blame teachers for not being “great” when they don’t have the help they need.

  2. I’m interested by the claim that charter schools make money. A little internet research reveals that they do make profit, because private companies collect both rent and public education money. But who cashes in, what are the different “business models,” and why do most charters follow the same formula?

  3. Does it strike anyone as unusual that the profession needing urgent reforming, achieved by firing old, tired, lazy, burned out teachers and replaced by young, fresh and blond is a predominantly female profession?

    One would think the hedge funders, Arne, Bill (as in Gates), Eli, Rupert, Joel, etc, would direct some of their reforminess on firing old, tired, lazy, burned out doctors, lawyers, engineers, and generals.
    Just sayin’

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