Another Charter School Abandons Parents, Students, and Teachers

Charter schools close every week, leaving many parents, students, and teachers out in the cold. Even worse, these “free market” schools governed by unelected private persons often close with no warning to anyone, leaving everyone blindsided.

Charter schools typically close for poor academic performance, corruption, or mismanagement, and it is common for all three to occur simultaneously.

The average person often wonders how such a thing is possible and allowed to happen in the first place. How can there be so many outsourced schools that open and close regularly? Why is such chaos and anarchy permitted? Who thinks this is positive and healthy?

The latest charter school to close abruptly and leave everyone stunned is Placer Academy Charter School in Rocklin, California. No one saw the closure coming. The disturbing announcement from the school came out of nowhere. “The abrupt closure plans leave the families of more than 200 students wondering where to turn on such short notice,” reports KCRA Channel 3. Echoing the sentiments of other parents who were stunned by the surprise announcement, one parent, Wendy Jenkins, said, “I could not believe it was real and I started to cry. We just kept reading it [the sudden closure notice] and reading it over – hoping we weren’t reading what we were seeing … the school was closing, and we were only going to have four days to find another fit.”

In the coming weeks and months, more charter schools will fail and close across the country, leaving even more parents, students, and teachers feeling violated. This pattern has not changed in over 30 years.

Nationally, a lengthy 2020 report from the Network for Public Education (NPE), “Broken Promises: An Analysis of Charter School Closures From 1999 – 2017,” showed that a staggering number of charter schools closed just a few years after they opened, displacing more than a million students. The real numbers are higher. Indeed, 5,000 charter schools have closed since their inception 31 years ago. That is an astounding number given that there are only 7,500 charter schools in existence today. And according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 235 charter schools closed just in the 2019-20 academic year. On average that is more than four charter school closures per week. A textbook example of “free market carnage.”

Most of the students cast off by these segregated schools will return to their public schools, which accepts all students at all times and usually has more nurses, more experienced teachers, better employee retirement plans, stronger programs, and more resources than deregulated charter schools. Even in their chronically-underfunded condition, heavily-vilified public schools generally offer more than charter schools.

So far, the neoliberal narrative that “public-schools-are-failing-and-evil-and-you-need-to-get-your-kid-into-a-privately-run-charter-school-immediately” has resulted mainly in greater profits for charter school owners, while lowering the level of education and culture in society. By funneling public wealth into the hands of narrow private interests, charter schools have also harmed the economy and undermined a modern nation-building project.

People reject the idea that the only choices available to them are public schools methodically set up to fail by neoliberals, or privately-run deregulated charter schools created by the same neoliberals in order to get richer under the banner of high ideals. The public rejects this false dichotomy and condemns neoliberals for their destructive actions.

All should unite to oppose the commodification of education and to defend the right to education so that every child has free and easy access to world-class, publicly-governed public schools.

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