Do Black Students Need White Peers?
A news report worries about the racial makeup of charter schools, despite their better performance.
The Associated Press published a hit piece earlier this month that blamed charter schools for perpetrating racial segregation. No shock there. The mainstream press has long been sympathetic to left-wing critiques of school choice, and racial imbalance in the classroom is regularly trotted out by union leaders like Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers as a reason to ban charter schools, however high-performing.
More interesting (and somewhat encouraging) was the backlash to the AP “analysis” from others on the political left. Shavar Jeffries of Democrats for Education Reform, an outfit that advocates school choice, faulted the reporters’ methodology, among other issues. The AP makes “apples-to-oranges comparisons that contrast the demographics of individual charter schools to those of entire cities,” he said. “This ignores the blatantly obvious fact that charter schools are concentrated in neighborhoods with high proportions of students of color to provide them an alternative to the low-performing traditional public schools they previously had no choice but to attend.”
But Mr. Jeffries seemed even more taken aback by the premise of the AP story. To wit: the supposed importance of the role white students play in the education of black students. “There’s no doubt there are benefits for students who attend racially diverse schools,” he said, but “we take issue with the assumption that black and brown children can’t learn unless they attend school alongside white children.”
Jason L. Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, and a Fox News commentator.
This piece originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal