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Update: Unfortunate Stalemate For Feds & Diverse Charters*

This week's announcement that Success Academy charters won't give an absolute priority to ELL kids in its charter lotteries because of opposition seems like an unfortunate turn of events (see ChalkbeatNY's Success Academy drops lottery preference for English learners).  

Charter schools located in mixed neighborhoods are often flooded by wealthier, whiter parents, and lose their diversity despite all efforts.  The USDE will allow weighted lotteries, but not guaranteed admission. USDE has opposed letting diverse charters weight their lotteries in such a strong way for fear of the precedent that would tempt other schools to set priorities (for white kids, for kids whose parents have yachts, etc.)

There are situations where charters have been set up to avoid integration, or located or run in ways that are disadvantageous to poor and minority kids.  But this is not one of them.

What could be done?  

Lots of things, it seems. Congress could change the federal definition of a charter school to allow this kind of weighting. The USDE could revise its guidance (though risking Congressional displeasure). Or Success could shift its proposal from an absolute 14 percent priority for ELL kids, going with an unweighted lottery for the first year or two and then shifting. The unitary enrollment system would be diluted, creating different systems for different schools, but more ELL kids would be served.

I'll let you know if and when Success or the USDE respond with more about their thinking, or why these solutions couldn't work.*

*UPDATED: From USDE's Dorie Turner Nolt: “The U.S. Department of Education is firmly committed to increasing high-quality educational opportunities for disadvantaged students, including English learners, in charter schools, as in all public schools. The Department has worked with Success Academies to find ways for it to provide additional weight for English learners within the boundaries of the law and program guidance, and remains committed to that effort. We have worked with other grantees that submitted proposals to use weighted lotteries for educationally disadvantaged students—including other charter management organizations operating in New York—and have approved several such proposals. Such approaches complement broader efforts by charter schools to recruit, serve and retain educationally disadvantaged students.”

Your turn, Success. 

Related posts: "Smarter" Charters Are Diverse, Teacher-Led;  Diverse Charters Form New National Alliance;  Diverse Charters Spread Nationally (Education Next); Diverse Charters Balance Learning & Accountability.

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