The Integrating (and Segregating) Effect of Charter, Magnet, and Traditional Elementary Schools: The Case of Five California Metropolitan Areas

For most children the racial composition of their neighborhood determines the racial composition of their school. Segregated housing patterns translate into a highly segregated educational system, which can then result in disparities in educational opportunities and an institutionalized mechanism for the reproduction of racial inequality. To better understand the extent to which the racial composition of charter and magnet schools deviates from their neighborhood composition, we analyze public elementary schools in five California metropolitan. Our findings suggest that individual schools can expose children to a more racially integrated or segregated educational environment than their local neighborhood. Magnet schools, on average, provide students with a more integrated environment than the local neighborhood, while charter schools provide a more segregated environment.

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