Charter School Promoters Celebrate Charter School Failure

Even worse than the persistently high failure rate of brick-and-mortar charter schools is the extraordinary failure rate of cyber charter schools year after year. Even the nature and scope of corruption in these deregulated online schools is more troubling than the corruption that has long plagued brick-and-mortar charter schools nationwide.

The abysmal performance of cyber charter schools is so visible and chronic that many charter school advocates do not even bother trying to sugar-coat their chronically substandard performance.

Thus it was laughable to hear that owners-operators of cyber charter schools in Nevada  celebrated “student achievement” and “public school options” during Public Schools Week in the U.S., which ran from February 24-28, 2020. Jay Schuler, Nevada director of Public School Options, went so far as to casually state that, “Student achievement through online schools is so much greater when you remove barriers for students who need a different learning environment.”1 Schuler made other irrational statements as well: “Students attending online school often excel through personalized learning plans feeling more successful and engaged in their education. Creating opportunities for learning empowers students’ success for a bright future.” More than 2,000 students attend online charter schools in Nevada.

For numerous damming and indicting reports on the persistently poor performance of online and brick-and-mortar charter schools in the Silver State one only needs to search for “Nevada” on the Diane Ravitch blog. Even the neoliberal Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University, which reveres charter schools, supplies reports and studies that show weak performance in Nevada’s charter schools.

Perhaps more bizarre than Schuler’s comments above is the cynical attempt by Nevada charter school operators to piggy-back on a national event that celebrates public schools. Charter schools are not public schools. There is no such thing as a public charter school. And simply repeating 50 times a day that something is public does not automatically make it public. Charter schools are privatized arrangements promoted by individuals and groups committed to the ideologies of consumerism, individualism, competition, and the “free market.” For these and other reasons, charter schools are run by unelected officials, operate non-transparently, intensify segregation, oppose teacher unions, and have very high student, teacher, and principal turnover rates.

Education, society, the economy, and the national interest would be far better off without cyber charter schools that funnel enormous sums of public funds to owners of capital.

  1. East, T. “Online Charter Schools Celebrate National Public School Week“, Nevada Business, February 26, 2020 []
Shawgi Tell is author of the book Charter School Report Card. He can be reached at stell5@naz.edu.. Read other articles by Shawgi.