Jim Crow lives on in Missouri: Student banned from St. Louis charter school because he’s black http://flip.it/.okvf

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Thursday, Feb 25, 2016 11:45 AM EST

Student banned from St. Louis charter school because he’s black

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Missouri law forbids black students in certain districts from attending, echoing racist history of charter schools

Ben Norton

Topics: Missouri, Segregation, Jim Crow, Charter schools, News, Politics News

Student banned from St. Louis charter school because he

Edmund Lee (Credit: change.org)

The echoes of Jim Crow continue today, five decades after it officially ended.

Edmund Lee is a third-grader at Gateway Science Academy in St. Louis, Missouri, a charter school he has attended since he was in kindergarten. Yet his family recently learned that he will no longer be able to attend the charter school because he is black.

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Lee’s family is moving to a new suburban school district, where a decades-old state law does not allow black students to attend charter schools in the city.

“When I read the guidelines I was in shock,” Lee’s mother LaShieka White told a local Fox affilliate. “I was crying.”

School officials say they are unable to override the state law. But the school’s principal and staff have come out in support of the young boy and his family.

“To not see his face in the halls next year would be extremely sad,” Lee’s third grade teacher told local media. “The family is saying they want to stay. I don’t understand why they can’t.”

The young boy’s mother created a Change.org petition, imploring Missouri state officials: “Don’t let race determine my son’s enrollment.”

“My son Edmund is an awesome young man. He currently has a 3.83 GPA, and has above average testing scores in language arts, math, and science. Edmund is very loving and the first to extend a helping hand if a fellow student needs help,” White writes in the petition.

“So imagine our shock when we found out Edmund would no longer be allowed to attend Gateway Science Academy because he is African-American,” she continues.

“The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education should not deny my son admission based on his race,” White adds. “We are going to show Edmund that his parents, community, and people across the country will fight for what is right.”

As of Thursday morning, more than 20,000 people had signed the petition. Some staff members at the charter school have signed it as well.

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This incident echoes the racist history of charter schools, which were used at the time of desegregation in order to continue running de facto white-only schools.

Critics say charter schools — which are strongly backed by large corporations and hedge funds — not only undermine public education and leave poor students with access to less resources and opportunities; they also reinforce racism and segregation.

The Civil Rights Project, an initiative at the University of California, Los Angeles, found in a 2010 report titled “Choice without Equity: Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards” that, while “segregation for blacks among all public schools has been increasing for nearly two decades, black students in charter schools are far more likely than their traditional public school counterparts to be educated in intensely segregated settings.”

“At the national level, 70 percent of black charter school students attend intensely segregated minority charter schools (which enroll 90-100 percent of students from under-represented minority backgrounds), or twice as many as the share of intensely segregated black students in traditional public schools,” the report noted.

The Civil Rights Project points out, “Patterns in the West and in a few areas in the South, the two most racially diverse regions of the country, also suggest that charters serve as havens for white flight from public schools.”

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