September 19, 2019

September 2019 Research Rundown

By Krista Kaput

Welcome to EdAllies’ first Research Rundown—a curated list of recent, relevant research we think is worth adding to the education equity conversation. This month we look at research on the link between charter schools and segregation, school discipline disparities for students of color and students with special needs, and the impact of racism on health outcomes.

Charter School Effects on Segregation

Urban Institute, July 2019

There has been a lot of debate over the question of whether charter schools increase racial stratification within schools. In the first national analysis, the Urban Institute found mixed results across states and a modest overall impact. Researchers estimate that segregation would drop by five percent if charters were absent from the average district. Moreover, the report found that while charter schools have some impact within certain districts, the effect is not discernible impact across larger metropolitan areas. The analysis also noted, “Segregation that takes place under such a school choice environment is fundamentally different from the pre–Brown v. Board of Education era of de jure segregation. Segregation caused by school choice and segregation forced by government statute should not be interpreted with the same lens.”


In 2015, Alejandro Cruz-Guzman and six other families sued the state of Minnesota alleging that racially and socioeconomically homogenous Twin Cities schools deprive students of color their constitutional right to an “adequate” education. They have asked the court to decide (1) whether the Twin Cities racially imbalanced schools meet the legal definition of segregation, and (2) if so, whether such settings can nonetheless provide an adequate education. The lawsuit implicates charters as a driver of regional segregation, raising questions about the intersection of parent choice and racial integration, and whether schools with a mission to serve students of color are part of the problem or part of the solution. This study helps offer answers around the extent to which charters contribute to racial imbalance.
Read the full report

Beyond Suspensions: Examining School Discipline Policies and Connections to the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Students of Color with Disabilities

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, July 2019

This new report finds that students of color with special needs are disproportionately suspended and expelled relative to their white peers with special needs. While there are decades of research that illustrate persistent discipline disparities for students of color and students with special needs, this report is unique in that it examines students who live at the intersection of these two identities. In particular, the report found that students of color—both as a whole and when broken down by individual racial group—do not commit more disciplinable offenses than their white peers, but black, Latinx, and Native American students receive substantially more discipline. These disproportionate discipline practices result in black students with special needs losing approximately 77 more days of instruction compared to white students with special needs.


Minnesota’s history of disproportionately suspending and expelling students of color and students with special needs has been extensively documented. Minnesota’s students of color receive 66 percent of all suspensions and expulsions, even though they are only 31 percent of the student population. Furthermore, students with special needs in Minnesota received 43 percent of all suspensions and expulsions, but only represent 14 percent of the student population. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is working to address these disparities by partnering with districts, and advocates are calling on legislators to create better guardrails and procedures. Read more in our recent blog.
Read the full briefing report

The Impact of Racism on Child and Adolescent Health

American Academy of Pediatrics, August 2019

In a new policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers evidence for practitioners about the continued negative impact of racism on the health and well-being of children. The statement, intended to help providers proactively engage in strategies to improve their patient’s health and well-being, outlines the links between implicit and explicit biases, institutional structures, interpersonal relationships, and long-term health outcomes.


AAP findings are just as relevant to education as they are to health. There is extensive research that illustrates the long-term impact biases, both implicit and explicit, can have with regard to student learning and outcomes, student discipline, and a teacher’s expectations. As the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) works to amend the Standards of Effective Practice—the core set of knowledge and skills that all teacher candidates in Minnesota teacher preparation programs learn—it is imperative that they consider how the standards will ensure teacher preparation programs prepare their teacher candidates to be self-reflective practitioners who understand how their personal and cultural biases may and/or do have an impact on students, families, and their teaching. Furthermore, we encourage districts and charter schools to use this information to review their curricula and professional development with an equity lens.
Read the policy statement

My Daughter’s Disability Was Not Her Destiny—and the Right School Made all the Difference

Read More

2019 Charter Legislative Update

Read More