As both the House and the Senate consider separate bills that would reauthorize and expand the quarter-billion-dollar-a-year Charter Schools Program (CSP), the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has examined more than a decade of data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) as well as documentation from open records requests. The results are troubling.
Between 2001 and 2013, 2,486 charter schools have been forced to shutter, affecting 288,000 American children enrolled in primary and secondary schools.
Furthermore, untold millions out of the $3.3 billion expended by the federal government under CSP have been awarded as planning and implementation grants to schools that never opened to students.
Charters Much More Likely to Close
The failure rate for charter schools is much higher than for traditional public schools. In the 2011-2012 school year, for example, charter school students ran two and half times the risk of having their education disrupted by a school closing and suffering academic setbacks as a result. Dislocated students are less likely to graduate and suffer other harms.
In a 2014 study, Matthew F. Larsen with the Department of Economics at Tulane University looked at high school closures in Milwaukee, almost all of which were charter schools. He concluded that closures decreased “high school graduation rates by nearly 10%” The effects persist “even if the students attends a better quality school after closure.”