Charter Schools Have Fewer Nurses and More Inexperienced Teachers than Public Schools

According to two recent U.S. government reports, private businesses like segregated charter schools have far fewer nurses and more inexperienced teachers than public schools: School Nurses in U.S. Public Schools (April 2020) and Characteristics of Public and Private Elementary and Secondary School Teachers in the United States (April 2020).  Both reports cover many years of data.

It is also well- known that privately-operated charter schools have higher teacher, principal, and student turnover rates than public schools, ensuring instability in the school milieu.

These and other facts stem directly from the privatized and marketized character of segregated charter schools, whether they are non-profit or for-profit. Privatization is usually associated with greater corruption, higher costs, less efficiency, lower quality services, less transparency, and restricted public access. The so-called “free market” ensures a law of the jungle fend-for-yourself atmosphere.

It should also be noted that privately-operated charter schools, which are governed by unelected individuals and are ostensibly “open to all,” have long offered fewer services, programs, and resources than public schools while also engaging in selective enrollment practices. This is not due to a shortage of funds, as charter school promoters often like to claim. Privately-operated charter schools receive enormous sums of public and private money from multiple sources while not having to uphold dozens of laws, rules, and regulations that public schools must follow. Public schools are required to sustain many important public standards that charter schools are exempt from, and this is one of the many ways segregated charter schools cut corners.

According to the first report, “In the 2015–16 school year, a higher percentage of traditional public schools than public charter schools had at least one school nurse (84 percent compared to 52 percent).”  That is a 32% difference. Given health problems such as asthma, diabetes, the flu, the Covid virus, and more, this is a significant problem. This puts charter school students in a vulnerable position.

According to the second report, “On average, public and private school teachers had about 14 years of teaching experience. Teachers in traditional public schools had 14 years of teaching experience, and public charter school teachers had 10 years of teaching experience, on average.”  That is another big difference. It is well-known in the sphere of education that experience counts for so much. Public school teachers also tend to have more degrees and better salaries than charter school teachers. Most parents prefer to send their kids to schools with more nurses and more experienced teachers.

There are roughly 100,000 public schools and 7,300 privately-operated charter schools in the United States. Approximately 3.2 million students attend charter schools while about 50 million youth attend public schools. About 150-250 charter schools close every year due to financial malfeasance and/or poor academic performance, leaving many low-income minority families out in the cold.

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