Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)


Public Policy


Paul Manna

Committee Members

Salvatore Saporito

Christopher Howard


In the last twenty years, charter schools have arisen as a potential solution to educational achievement gaps in the United States. Even though charter schools are public institutions, they have much control over what to teach and how to teach it. This educational flexibility creates differences not only between charters and traditional public schools but also considerable variation among charters themselves. Therefore, not all charters are created equal. Using a theory of charter school composition and an original data set on charter school characteristics, this paper examines the variation in advertised educational programs and mission statements of charter schools in California. Specifically, I ask whether the programmatic variation of charter schools correlates with the race and wealth of their student bodies. This study finds that there is variation in the racial and socioeconomic makeup of charter schools in California. Also, there is definite variation in charter school program offerings and mission statements. Relating these two measures, I find that certain charter school programs and missions correlate with specific racial categories and socioeconomic groups. This study has implications for understanding how social groups sort themselves out based on educational preferences. It has further implications for understanding the operation of market-based plans to reform America's schools and close educational achievement gaps between student groups.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Thesis is part of Honors ETD pilot project, 2008-2013. Migrated from Dspace in 2016.

On-Campus Access Only