How Do Public Charter Schools Impact Minorities?

Questions and Answers about Charter Schools and the
Proposed Constitutional Amendment

How do charter schools impact minorities?

Charter schools have significantly closed the achievement gaps between minority, low-income students and wealthier, non-minority students. In fact, research shows that minorities benefit more from attending charter schools than non-minorities.

As a public school, not only is it against the law for any charter school to discriminate by race or ethnicity, but charter schools in Georgia disproportionately serve minority students overall and more than two-thirds of independent startup charter schools in Georgia enroll a larger percentage of minorities than their local school system. And considering that parents must make a conscious decision to place their children in a charter school, this is clearly a desired option among minority parents.

Charter schools open up options to students who may not be able to afford to move to another district or pay private school tuition. Even for students with access to a quality traditional school, charter schools offer unique options such as smaller, more nurturing environments; more structure and/or stronger discipline; STEM or performing arts programs; unique curriculum or blended learning.

FACT: Charter schools enroll a higher percentage of minorities than traditional public schools. (61.5% vs. 56%)[1]

FACT: Half of all charter school students qualify for free and reduced lunch.[2]

FACT: The majority (67%) of independent startup charter schools enroll a larger percentage of minorities than their local school system.[3]

FACT: Academically, minorities benefit greatly from charter schools.[4]

According to one study, “The charter school effects reported here are therefore large enough to reduce the black-white reading gap in middle school by two-thirds.”[5]

Another study in Chicago found “students in charter schools outperformed a comparable group of lotteried-out students who remained in regular Chicago public schools by 5 to 6 percentile points in math and about 5 percentile points in reading … To put the gains in perspective, it may help to know that 5 to 6 percentile points is just under half of the gap between the average disadvantaged, minority student in Chicago public schools and the average middle-income, nonminority student in a suburban district.”[6]

For more information, see “Charter Benefits Are Proven by the Best Evidence,” Dr. Jay P. Greene, 21st Century Chair in Education Reform at the University of Arkansas.


[1] Source: Georgia Department of Education, “2010-2011 Charter School Annual Report,” Page 8

[2] Ibid.

[3] Author’s calculation based on Georgia Department of Education statistics.

[4]Charter Benefits Are Proven by the Best Evidence,“ Dr. Jay P. Greene, May 2012

[6]Findings from the City of Big Shoulders,” (2005), Caroline M. Hoxby, professor of economics, Harvard University, and Jonah E. Rockoff, assistant professor of economics and finance, Columbia Business School