The messengers of the anti-choice movement love to point out that charter schools discriminate against low-income, high needs kids during enrollment in order to inflate student achievement. Today the Star-Ledger describes a traditional Jersey City traditional school (School 3 in Downtown) that, according to plaintiffs, fills up its popular dual-language pre-K4 classes “mostly with white students, while blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented.”
“It’s a great program, the only problem is if you are attracting a certain group to the program, it becomes discriminatory,” Felicia Palmer, a former PTA president at the school and the lead plaintiff in the suit, told The Jersey Journal. “It has really, apparently become very segregated.”
Ironically (or not) Jersey Public Schools, according to Palmer, created the program to keep wealthier local parents within the district instead of enrolling their kids in charters or private schools:
I was PTA president and was instrumental in the program’s current popularity. We created a conference to tout the program to local parents as a way to woo them to the school because parents were overwhelmingly choosing private and charter options.
Many Jersey charters are working hard to insure that enrollment procedures result in demographically-diverse groups, and some of the proposals for new charter school laws would mandate that practice. Maybe traditional schools, at least in Jersey City, need to follow the lead of charter schools.