Exploring school choice and the consequences for student racial segregation within Pennsylvania’s charter school transfers


  • Erica Frankenberg Pennsylvania State University http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9224-7734
  • Stephen Kotok University of Texas-El Paso
  • Kai Schafft Pennsylvania State University
  • Bryan Mann Pennsylvania State University




charter schools, racial segregation, educational equity, diversity, school reform


Using individual-level student data from Pennsylvania, this study explores the extent to which charter school racial composition may be an important factor in students’ self-segregative school choices. Findings indicate that, holding distance and enrollment constant, Black and Latino students are strongly averse to moving to charter schools with higher percentages of White students. Conversely, White students are more likely to enroll in such charter schools. As the percentage and number of students transferring into charter schools increases, self-segregative school choices raise critical questions regarding educational equity, and the effects of educational reform and school choice policies on the fostering of racially diverse educational environments.


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Author Biographies

Erica Frankenberg, Pennsylvania State University

Erica Frankenberg is an associate professor of education and demography at the Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests focus on racial desegregation and inequality in K–12 schools, school choice and racial stratification, and the connections between school segregation and other metropolitan policies. 

Stephen Kotok, University of Texas-El Paso

Stephen Kotok is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Foundations at the University of Texas at El Paso. His research focuses on the extent that schools expand opportunity or act as a stratifying mechanism. His specific areas of research include educational leadership, school climate, charter schools, and segregation.


Kai Schafft, Pennsylvania State University

Kai Schafft is an Associate Professor of Education in the Department of Education Policy Studies at Penn State. Trained as a rural sociologist, his research focuses on the relationship between the well-being of rural schools and the communities they serve.

Bryan Mann, Pennsylvania State University

Bryan Mann is a PhD graduate of the Educational Theory and Policy program at Pennsylvania State University and in August will start as an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Technology Studies at the University of Alabama. His research focuses on charter school policies and the effects they have on organizational development and leadership, student performance, and school and community demographics.




How to Cite

Frankenberg, E., Kotok, S., Schafft, K., & Mann, B. (2017). Exploring school choice and the consequences for student racial segregation within Pennsylvania’s charter school transfers. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 25, 22. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.25.2601




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