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Writer’s claim Arizona schools more segregated now than in ‘50s, ‘60s wrong

Dear Editor:

Greg Wyman claimed in his Jan. 28 guest commentary that school segregation is worse now than in the 1950s and 60s, alleging this was due to schools of choice. School level data from the mid-20th century is hard to come by, but in 1994 (when AZ passed open enrollment and charter school laws) 59% percent of Arizona public schools had 70% of their student body from a single
race or ethnicity. During the 2017-18 school year (the most recent available) that statewide percentage had dropped to 41%. Arizona students are less rather than more racially isolated in their schools today than in 1994.

Wyman also raised the topic of students with disabilities. Back in the 1950s and 1960s children with disabilities were routinely excluded from public schools entirely. Arizona law today creates opportunities for the families of students with disabilities to attend zoned district, out of zone district, charter and private schools. Charters must conduct a random admissions lottery among applicants when applications exceed the number of seats, available for audit by public
authorities. The annual Sunnyslope open enrollment parent camp out vividly illustrates that state law does not require lotteries for district open enrollment transfers.

The pot is calling the toaster black.

Matthew Ladner

Director, Arizona Center for Student Opportunity

One comment

  1. This is not really true. Students with disabilities are not able to access open enrollment. These families are told that schools are “at capacity” for sped students and we are told to not bother applying. Adding insult to injury, SPED students aren’t even guaranteed enrollment at their home schools because districts only create certain programs in certain schools and they force attendance at those locations. They also frequently relocate these programs and force disabled students to change schools as often as yearly. It’s a big problem. And good luck winning placement at a charter school if you have a learning disability.

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