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Charter schools, parent choice, and segregation: A longitudinal study of the growth of charters and changing enrollment patterns in five school districts over 26 years

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Published: 2018-02-19

Authors

Doug Archbald

University of Delaware

Andrew Hurwitz

University of Delaware

Felicia Hurwitz

University of Delaware

Keywords: Segregation; school choice; charter schools

Abstract

In 1975, a court-ordered busing program was launched to desegregate the schools of New Castle County, Delaware. It was by many accounts one of the most significant and successful desegregation programs in the nation (Armor & Rossell, 2002; Orfield, 2014; Raffel, 1980). In 1995, the districts of the county were declared “unitary” and the court order was lifted. Shortly thereafter, new policies were enacted allowing school choice, charter schools, and neighborhood attendance zoning. This study draws on primary and secondary data, including geographic, census, and enrollment data, and provides an account of the policy changes and a 26-year longitudinal analysis of changing enrollment trends and patterns. Segregation by race and income among schools accelerated after the policy changes. While the policy changes created greater segregation, enrollment trends varied by district and over time; segregation growth was moderate in two of the districts, small in the others. Our study illuminates the complexity of explaining segregation patterns and disentangling the contributing role of choice, charters, attendance zones, and residential demographics in explaining segregation patterns in school systems.

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Author Biographies

Doug Archbald

University of Delaware

Doug Archbald in an associate professor of educational leadership and policy in the School of Education at the University of Delaware. His research focuses on problem-based learning for graduate professional education and education policy impacts on inequality and social  stratification.

Andrew Hurwitz

University of Delaware

Andrew Hurwitz is a third year Ph.D. student in the School of Education at the University of Delaware.  His research interests focus on the use of secondary data to answer policy relevant questions in the fields of educational achievement and equity.

Felicia Hurwitz

University of Delaware

Felicia Hurwitz is a third year Ph.D. student in the School of Education at the University of Delaware.  Her research interests focus on topics in early childhood education and the use of secondary data in education research.

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Published: 2018-02-19

How to Cite

Archbald, D., Hurwitz, A., & Hurwitz, F. (2018). Charter schools, parent choice, and segregation: A longitudinal study of the growth of charters and changing enrollment patterns in five school districts over 26 years. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 26, 22. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.26.2921