Diverse settings help students develop high-level critical thinking and cognitive skills and encourage children to grow into tolerant adults, according to a report that suggests reducing charter schools' focus on economic need.
Rather than emphasizing funding charter schools that educate high-poverty and minority students, government funders and philanthropists should encourage charter schools to develop diverse student bodies, the Century Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, said in its findings released in May.
Schools that are racially, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse are better for the kids, it said, and low-income students from diverse charter schools have better networks to facilitate employment when it comes time to look for a job.
The report made the following recommendations:
- Federal policy should create incentives for located charter schools in areas that combat racial and socioeconomic isolation.
- The U.S. Department of Education should increase funding for schools that encourage diversity - particularly those that use income-based lotteries to create diverse student bodies.
- On the state level, governments should allow regional or inter-district charter schools, rather than restricting charters to individual districts, as is done in some states.
- The states should also create incentives for charters to create diverse schools. Those incentives should be comparable to the priorities some states place on schools with concentrations of at-risk or low-income students.
- Foundations should broaden their portfolio of charter schools, to include charters that serve low-income children by educating the in integrated environments - not just charters that serve high-poverty students.
This article is part of our Next America: Higher Education project, which is supported by grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation.