School Choice

Erica Frankenberg (Ed.D., Harvard University) is an assistant professor in the Department of Education Policy Studies in the College of Education at the Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests focus on racial desegregation and inequality in K-12 schools, and the connections between school segregation and other metropolitan policies. She has published four books, dozens of articles in education policy journals, law reviews, housing journals, and practitioner publications, and has been involved in several desegregation cases as an expert witness.  Her work has also been cited in recent Supreme Court decisions about race-conscious policies in education.

Prior to joining the Penn State faculty, she was the Research and Policy Director for the Initiative on School Integration at the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA.  One aspect of her work has examined how districts respond to the Supreme Court’s 2007 voluntary integration decision. This on-going research examines how school districts define diversity and what policies they adopt to pursue diversity. Dr. Frankenberg is the co-editor of Integrating schools in a changing society: New policies and legal options for a multiracial generation (with Elizabeth DeBray), from the University of North Carolina Press. 

Dr. Frankenberg recently completed a study of suburban racial change examining the extent to which suburban districts are becoming more diverse, how they conceptualize of this change, and what responses districts and communities adopt. A book from the Harvard Education Press in Fall 2012 co-edited with Gary Orfield, The Resegregation of Suburban Schools: A Hidden Crisis in American Education, is the first publication from this project. 

Finally, Dr. Frankenberg’s research has examined how the design of school choice policy affects racial and economic student stratification. This has included examining the segregation trends in charter schools as well as analyzing state and federal policy to understand why such patterns of segregation exist in charter schools. She has co-authored (with Gary Orfield) a book on this topic, Educational Delusions? Why Choice Can Deepen Inequality and How to Make it Fair (from University of California Press). 

On May 15, the Civil Rights Project released a study that I co-authored with Gary Orfield about the extent of school segregation 60 years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision the U.S. Supreme Court issued on May 17, 1954. Our analysis of data from public schools across the country has several noteworthy findings. Today, the country’s public school enrollment is more diverse than ever. In the two largest regions the South and the West, in fact, white students no longer comprise a majority of the enrollment. In the South, traditionally home to most black students and where black students remain the most desegregated despite sharp declines, Latinos are larger than blacks. We find that black and Latino students across most regions have rising segregation, including substantial segregation in suburban areas.  Although traditionally not a focus of most segregation discussions, white students too are segregated: white students attend schools with higher percentages of same-race peers than of any other race (nearly three-quarters of students, on average). Finally, schools with high concentrations of black & Latino students strongly overlap with concentrated poverty. Read more

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Mercedes K. Schneider, Ph.D., has been teaching full time for 19 years.  She attended Louisiana State and graduated with a B.S. in secondary education, English and German (1991).  Dr. Schneider taught for two years in Louisiana, then moved to Georgia, where she taught German (1993-94) and English (1994-98).  While teaching, Mercedes Schneider earned her M.Ed. in guidance and counseling from West Georgia (1998).

In August 2002, she graduated from Northern Colorado with a Ph.D. in applied statistics and research methods. Dr. Schneider then taught graduate-level statistics and research courses at Ball State University (Muncie, IN), except for one undergraduate course: Tests and Measurement.  In this course, Dr. Schneider addressed issues related to No Child Left Behind and taught students “how bad an idea it was to attempt to measure teacher performance using student standardized test scores.” In July 2007, Dr. Schneider returned to Louisiana to teach high school English in St. Tammany Parish. Since January 2013, she has been blogging about education reform issues at and also for @thechalkface and Huffington Post. Dr. Schneider has a book, A Chronicle of Echoes  addressing key individuals and organizations promoting corporate reform with Information Age Publishing that recently been released.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Corporate reform is fond of euphemisms, of catchy names to disguise the truth of what amounts to the deliberate defunding of American public education in favor of the widespread, under-regulated corporate raiding of public dollars in exchange for “top-down-controlled,” often-substandard education “options.”

This is what self-styled education reformers call “school choice.”

Today, one of the most common ways for “choice” to manifest itself in a school system is via charter schools and vouchers.  In this post, I will briefly focus on the unfolding of these two concepts in Louisiana. Read more

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