Black Caucus Wants Chris Barbic To Come Talk Charter School Segregation

Chris Barbic (left) was chosen by Gov. Bill Haslam to lead the state's Achievement School District. He previously started YES Prep in Houston, which also serves primarily low-income minority students. Credit: TN Photo Services

Chris Barbic (left) was chosen by Gov. Bill Haslam to lead the state’s Achievement School District. He previously started YES Prep in Houston, which also serves primarily low-income minority students. Credit: TN Photo Services

African Americans in the Tennessee legislature are requesting a personal visit from the superintendent overseeing the state’s lowest performing schools. At a recent forum, Chris Barbic said creating diversity shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of charter schools.

No one denies that charter schools in the state are mostly segregated. Students are almost all low-income minorities. That’s primarily because state law restricted attendance to disadvantaged students until 2011.

The question is whether charters now should make an effort to have diverse student bodies. Barbic said he thinks charters just reflect the communities they’re in, which are largely segregated.

Rep. Johnny Shaw (D-Bolivar) says Barbic needs to come talk to the Black Caucus.

“We want to give him the opportunity to explain to us exactly what he meant.”

In an email, Barbic’s office said he has an “open door to legislators” and anyone else.

Students in the charters operated by Barbic’s Achievement School District are almost all low-income minorities. There have been concerns that other charters could become mostly white and affluent if they locate in wealthier neighborhoods.

Daniel Potter contributed to this story from the state capitol.

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