RI charter schools are a haven for low-income minority students.

Charter schools offer a prime example of how the easy access to data enabled by Anchor Rising’s People’s Data Armory can shed light on public debate.

Listening to public debate about charter schools and how they take money from regular district schools, one gets the impression of advantaged families drawing resources away from disadvantaged ones, as if the state is forcing districts to fund private schools.  Some of us believe that is actually how things should work, but that’s not what charter schools are.

Who is actually attending charter schools is therefore a very important question, and these two charts from our Rhode Island Public Schools October Enrollment application sheds some light on the question.

RI charter enrollment by race and needs


Most of the students enrolled in Rhode Island charter school are minority students, and the majority of them are involved with the free or reduced lunch program, which is an indication of low income.  That isn’t true for the state as a whole or even (at least on the racial front) of the Northern Rhode Island districts that supply most charter school students.  (Working from the state’s list of charter schools, you can compare individual charter schools or groups of schools with the districts that they serve.)

So, when you see the all (or at least mostly) white leaders of the teachers unions going after charter schools, the students whose opportunities they wish to take away are mostly poor minority children.  Does that count as “white supremacy”?

Data notes:

  • If you hover over the chart by race, you will see the option to change the layout to percentages to quickly find the percentages for each group.
  • NEL/CPS Construction & Career Academy and Times2 Academy are on the state’s charter list, but not listed separately in the enrollment data.
  • Other independent (non-district) public schools listed in the enrollment data have differing structures and are not included in the chart above, although they don’t change the picture much.


Featured image by Vahid Moeini Jazani on Unsplash.

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Helen Sheehan
Helen Sheehan
1 year ago

We should be supporting charter schools that are not influenced by unions. Thomas Sowell points out in his book, Charter Schools and Their Enemies, that students in charter schools across the country perform better at every grade level and in every subject when compared to public school students from the same financial and ethnic groups, same neighborhood AND often in the same building!

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