Seventy Percent of North Carolina’s Charter Schools Earned a “C” or Lower

Privately-operated charter schools in the United States have a long record of failure. They have been over-promising and under-delivering for decades. Over the years, many people, especially low-income minority parents living in urban settings, have been led to believe that outsourced schools operated by unelected private persons or large for-profit corporations are vastly superior to the “dreadful” public schools they currently attend—public schools which, for decades, have been methodically starved of funds, over-tested, vilified, punished, and set up to fail so as to be privatized by neoliberals obsessed with maximizing profit as fast as possible. Neoliberals have never stopped trying to conceal their direct role in setting up public schools to fail so as to be privatized. But No Matter What the Charter School Movement Says, Parents Like Their Public Schools (October 5, 2022).

Some of the most recent data on charter school performance shows that 70% of charter schools in North Carolina earned a “C” or lower. Specifically:

65 – earned a C

59 – earned a D

19 – earned an F

TOTAL: 143

This new information is from the state’s school accountability data from 2020-21 and is provided by NC Policy Watch.

NC Policy Watch also points out that 76 privately-operated charter schools (38%) in North Carolina “did not meet academic growth goals.” In addition, there are 35 “low-performing charter schools that are considered continually low-performing.”

Many charter schools in North Carolina and the rest of the country will continue to fail and close in the coming years. Indeed, thousands of charter schools have failed and closed over the past 31 years, leaving many low-income minority families feeling violated. The three most common reasons charter schools close every week are financial malfeasance, mismanagement, and poor academic performance.

Unlike neoliberals and privatizers, the public wants to stop the flow of all public funds and resources to all charter schools because they fail frequently, are constantly mired in corruption, violate the public interest, and undermine public schools. School privatization also harms the economy and the national interest.

Approximately 3.4 million students are enrolled in about 7,500 privately-operated charter schools across the country. Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont are the only states with no charter school legislation. The nation’s first charter school law was passed in Minnesota in 1991. North Carolina has had a charter school law since 1996. Currently, more than 130,000 students are enrolled in 204 deregulated charter schools in North Carolina. The state currently funnels nearly one billion dollars from public schools to these outsourced schools operated by unelected private persons.

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