Schools as Market-Based Clusters: Geospacial and Statistical Analysis of Charter Schools in Ohio

Elizabeth A. Gilblom, North Dakota State University
Hilla I. Sang, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


This study contributes to the growing body of research concerning the strategic geographic positioning of traditional charter schools (TCS) in urban areas and their segregative effect by considering economist Michael Porter’s concept of business clusters, in which businesses ‘cluster’ to maximize their potential profit and to gain access to a customer base. Using a mixed-methods approach, we use geographic information systems (GIS) to perform an Average Nearest Neighbor Analyses (ANNA) to determine if charter and public schools (TPS) cluster in Ohio’s Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD). We analyze school enrollment data and the local census tracts using MANOVA to compare the characteristics of TCS and TPS and produce maps of the results. Consistent with other research, we find evidence of increased segregation. The ANNA and MANOVA results indicate that TCS are more clustered than TPS and they tend to locate outside of the poorest communities with higher concentrations of Black and poor individuals.