Charter Schools in Baltimore as a Potential Driver of Social Change

Authors: Rob Neff*, Towson University
Topics: Urban Geography, Ethnicity and Race, United States
Keywords: Education, Charter Schools, Baltimore, Segregation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: 8211, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This study examines some of the social impacts of public charter schools in Baltimore, MD. National-scale discourses around charter schools tend to emphasize themes of privatization and student outcomes. Local discourses in Baltimore tend to focus on competing claims about the role public charter schools have in exasperating or mitigating economic and racial segregation, producing improvements in student outcomes, and questions of equitable funding across all public schools within the city. This paper uses publicly available data to explore questions of student performance, diversity, and inclusion in the school system of Baltimore city. A statistical analysis of student performance on standardized tests reveals that while racial and economic disparities persist at public charter schools, student outcomes for all demographic groups improve at charter schools. In addition, demographic analysis of charter schools vs. traditional neighborhood schools in Baltimore suggests that charter schools may act as an integrating force in the city's education system, rather than as instrument of segregation. The results also highlight the need for more sophisticated measures of poverty among Baltimore's student population to fully explore questions of equity relevant in cities with extremely distressed populations.

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