New York State: 50 Charter Schools Closed in 20 Years

According to New York Charter School Fact Sheet (January 2021) from the New York State Education Department, the number of charter schools issued in New York State since the passage of the state’s charter school law in 1998 is 397. The total number of privately-operated charters permitted statewide under 2015 legislative amendments is 460. It is worth noting that a conversion of an existing public school to a charter school is not counted toward the numerical limits established by Article 56 of Education Law. This amounts to about 10 charter schools.

A separate but related document from the New York State Education Department, New York State Charter Schools (January 2021), claims that 46 privately-operated charter schools closed or never opened in the state. Fifteen of these charter schools closed since 2010.

It is not unreasonable to assume that more investigation and more recent data would reveal that more than 46 charter schools have actually closed in the state over the past 20 years. For example, the Buffalo School Board voted in April 2021 to close two failing charter schools in Buffalo.

Broken Promises: An Analysis of Charter School Closures From 1999 – 2017 provides a more comprehensive picture of the high failure and closure rate of charter schools nationwide. Equally problematic, persistently poor oversight and weak accountability in the charter school sector have kept many failing charter schools open.

The frequent failure and closure of privately-operated charter schools is part of the constant instability in the crisis-prone charter school sector that has left thousands of black and brown 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.