Privately-Operated Charter Schools Continue to Fail and Close

Roughly 150-200 privately-operated “innovative” charter schools close every year across America, leaving thousands of minority families high and dry. This trend has persisted for at least 30 years. Indeed, to date about 5,000 charter schools have closed since 1991. This is a huge number given the fact that there are only about 7,500 charter schools in existence today.

The reasons for such closures are numerous but typically involve some sort of fraud, corruption, dysfunction, mismanagement, or malfeasance. Thus, for example:

An administrative law judge Friday [July 29, 2022] upheld a decision by the Osceola County School Board [in Florida] to terminate a contract with a charter school [American Classical Charter Academy], citing issues such as a large number of uncertified teachers and not properly providing exceptional-student education services.

This example is by no means unique in the troubled charter school sector. The problem of poor special education services is a particularly sharp one in most charter schools because, unlike public schools, charter schools operate like private businesses that strive to “cut costs” by avoiding high-need students. In practice, charter schools are not open to all students, which is why they are more segregated than public schools. Privatized education has never paved the way for all students to have an education. Privately-operated charter schools are also notorious for high teacher turnover rates, mainly due to poor working conditions, including poor pay (see here and here). Such high turnover rates undermine collegiality, continuity, collaboration, and learning.

For extensive information and analysis on widespread corruption, waste, fraud, and dysfunction in the deregulated charter school sector, see the Network for Public Education.

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