More Than 300 Privately-Operated Ohio Charter Schools Have Closed In 20 Years

Across the country, thousands of charter schools have closed in under 30 years. Corruption and poor academic performance are two key reasons for the high failure rate in the charter school sector.

Between 1998 and 2019, 306 charter schools closed in Ohio. On average, that is more than one charter school closing per month for 20 years.

Ohio is often called the “Wild West” of charter schools because of the intense chaos, anarchy, and violence in the charter school sector in that state. Ohio’s charter school laws are notoriously antisocial and charter school–friendly. Accountability and transparency are essentially zero in Ohio’s charter schools. Endless stories involving embezzlement and fraud in Ohio’s charter school sector abound. Bad charter school news is relentless and continuous.

Unfortunately, the entire segregated charter school sector is much like this.

Chaos, anarchy, and violence are not unique to Ohio’s charter schools. Disarray and destruction in the charter school sector is mostly a question of degree, that is, of how intense such chaos and anarchy are. In cities like Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago, and Washington DC, the charter school sector is plagued by turmoil and instability.

This chaos, anarchy, and violence will not disappear until the ideologies of individualism, consumerism, and competition are banished from a public responsibility like education. So long as education is treated as a commodity, as nothing more than a business, then the chaos, anarchy, and violence inherent to the “free market” will make itself felt ruthlessly. Nonprofit and for-profit charter schools will continue to open and close frequently, often unpredictably, and thousands of families will continue to feel violated, angry, and stressed. These parents, in turn, will no doubt share their negative charter school experiences with others, which in turn will discourage others from believing the intense hype surrounding privately-operated charter schools and dissuade them from enrolling their children in charter schools.

Add to this the fact that charter schools continually experience high student, teacher, and principal turnover rates and you have very unstable conditions in a sector that barely makes up seven percent of all schools in the country.

In these and other ways charter schools are their own worst enemy. Charter school promoters are too anticonscious and greedy to realize that the constant churn and upheaval in the charter school sector is not a virtue, but a disaster for education, society, the economy, and the national interest. Charter school promoters want people to suspend thinking and investigation and simply believe that a major social responsibility like education, which is germane to the future of society, should be run on the basis of “free market” principles—the same principles that ensure carnage and ruin every hour in the business world.

Shawgi Tell is author of the book Charter School Report Card. He can be reached at Read other articles by Shawgi.