According to data released by the Office of Civil Rights, all 44 Minneapolis charter schools have a student body that consists of over 40% students of a single race or ethnicity. Of these schools, two are completely racially segregated, meaning there are only students of one race enrolled in the schools, and 13 others have over 90% students of one race or ethnicity. A total of 10,949 students were enrolled in Minneapolis charter schools during the 2011-2012 school year.
The chart above shows the number of Minneapolis charter schools by the predominant race of their student body. The colors on each bar represent the dominant race in each school. Placement on the chart shows the percent of the student body made up of a single race. For example, the red chunk of the far left bar shows that there are three Minneapolis charter schools that have an enrollment of 90-100 percent Hispanic students.
All of the data used to make this chart comes from the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) data for the 2011-2012 school year.
Minnesota Transitions: A special case
The Minnesota Transitions Charter School District was excluded from the chart because only district-wide information was provided for seven of the eight schools in the charter school district that is Minnesota Transitions. (Charter schools are districts — most are one-school districts, but Minnesota Transitions has eight schools in Minneapolis.) According to the data, 57% of Alp High School’s 329 students are Black and 70% of the 2818 other students in the district are White. When contacted by phone for this story, the Minnesota Transitions district said it did not have information on the demographics of individual schools.
Why are charter schools so segregated?
Segregation reflects many charter schools’ culturally-focused missions.
New Millennium Academy’s (98% Asian) mission is “to build a better life for our students by creating an environment of high academic achievement while preserving Hmong culture and literacy.” Harvest Prep School/Seed Academy’s (98% Black) mission is “to instruct, empower, enable and guide African American Children to achieve superior academic, social and moral development.” Aurora Charter School’s (98% Hispanic) mission is “to operate a center of learning that embraces academic excellence and celebrates the gift of Latino culture.”
The OCR data also show that the majority of charter schools and students are Black. Out of the 37 schools with demographic data (excluding the seven Minnesota Transitions schools with only district-wide data), 22 of them have predominantly black student bodies. And of the 8,131students who attend these schools, 4,466 are black. The pie charts below compare the racial demographics of Minneapolis charter schools to Minneapolis Public School (MPS) district schools and show that many Black students have left the MPS system in favor of charter schools.
Discipline in Charter Schools
The OCR data also provide insight on the discipline records of schools and show that a larger percent of students who attend predominantly Black schools are suspended than students at other schools. The chart below illustrates the percent of the students who have received one or more out-of-school suspensions in predominantly Black, Hispanic, White, Native American, and Asian Minneapolis charter schools. The chart shows that, on average, charter schools have higher suspension rates than MPS district schools. Note that although the suspension rate is highest at 20% in predominantly Native American schools, there is only one predominantly Native American school in the city, Four Directions Charter School.
Schools included in Discipline Chart
This chart does not include the Minneapolis Transitions Charter School District.
In addition, six other Minneapolis charter schools did not provide information to ORC on out-of-school suspensions. When asked via email if this is because there were no out-of-school suspensions at their schools in 2011 or because that information was not reported to OCR, none of the schools responded.
For two of these schools, Bright Water Elementary and Harvest Prep School/Seed Academy, information about disciplinary actions for the 2011-2012 school year was available on the Minnesota Department of Education website. These schools were included in the chart, however their numbers include expulsions and exclusions as well as out-of-school suspensions, which may lead to some slightly skewed data. Bright Water, a predominantly White school with an enrollment of 123 students had zero disciplinary actions and Harvest Prep, a predominantly Black school with an enrollment of 429 had 128.
Two schools, Minnesota School of Science, which closed in 2013, and Friendship Academy of Fine Arts, had no data from OCR or MDE on out-of-school suspensions or disciplinary actions, respectively. These two schools are not included in the chart.
Two other schools, New Millenium Academy and Minneapolis Academy, are also not included in the chart because they provided no information on out-of-school suspensions to OCR and their discipline data on MDE was ambiguous. Each of these schools had an asterisk for their discipline data which means there are anywhere from one to 19 disciplinary actions for their school. MDE says it replaces cells with numbers between one and 19 to protect student privacy.
Map of Charter Schools
The map below shows the location of Minneapolis charter schools. The blue dots represent predominantly Black schools, the green dots represent predominantly Asian schools, the red dots represent predominantly White schools, the yellow dots represent primarily Hispanic schools, and the purple dots represent predominantly Native American schools. If you click on a dot you can see the school’s name, total enrollment, predominant race, and the percent of the student body that is of a single race.
Map shows Minneapolis charter schools and what race is the highest enrollment in each school, with different colored dots representing different dominant racial enrollment.
What other effects do segregated charter schools have?
It is clear that many Minneapolis charter school students are not learning alongside students of diverse races. Data also shows that these segregated schools suspend their students at different rates from each other and mostly at higher rates than MPS district schools.
What other questions about race in charter schools are worth asking? And, what other implications may racially segregated schools have on students?
The spreadsheets used to analyze the data in this article can be found here.