25 Years of Evidence

Where charter schools are allowed, public schools suffer, taxpayers are swindled, and students are worse off.

There is not enough room on one page to list them all, but we have organized some research that we hope will help you see the playbook to destroy public education and that the charter school craze is coming to an end.

This New York Times article discusses charter schools in Detroit and touches upon many of the charter concerns discussed below.  Detroit is one of the worst examples, but the article does a good job pointing out problems with charter schools in general: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/29/us/for-detroits-children-more-school-choice-but-not-better-schools.html.  

Here is a storified version of disasters we posted on social media under the hashtag:


There are so many, we are going to have to start a separate log by state… We will add one for each state as time allows.


Concerns about charter schools are numerous but generally fall into four categories: financial , quality, rights of students, democracy. We should implement any successful aspects of charter schools in our public schools in lieu of introducing a system with risk of fraud, civil rights abuses, and other problems listed below.

  1. Financial concerns – Too many individuals seek to create or expand charter schools to make a profit.  Even if the motive is beneficent, protections are still required to ensure individuals within the system don’t profit from tax payer money.  
    1. Some charter schools are for-profit schools.  Even if they are not for-profit, they may be managed by for-profit management companies (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/10/05/education-department-slammed-for-charter-school-oversight-by-its-own-watchdog-office/?utm_term=.6fd5952a7f2b).   In addition, salaries for administrators and executives in charter schools or charter school management companies may far exceed those of comparable public school employees (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-singer/charter-school-executive-profit_b_5093883.html).  Finally, because these are private entities, it is difficult or impossible to determine how tax payer money is being spent (http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2016-05-26/story/management-company-jacksonville-charter-schools-faces-charges-fraud, http://interactive.sun-sentinel.com/charter-schools-unsupervised/investigation.html,
    2. The funding of charter schools reduces funding to public schools.  Given that charter schools can cherry pick students (see below), the students with the most expensive needs may make up a larger percentage of students in public schools than charter schools, making the loss of funding more severe for public schools (http://ncspe.tc.columbia.edu/center-news/the-impact-of-charter-schools-on-district-school-budgets/?utm_source=WP+229&utm_campaign=WP+229&utm_medium=email).
    3. Real estate is a particular concern when it comes to the expenditure of tax money.  Charter schools may be housed in buildings owned by an individual or company that invests in real estate.  Profit can be made by charging rent to the charter school that exceeds the cost of the property (https://dianeravitch.net/2016/08/16/pennsylvania-state-auditor-targets-charter-real-estate-frauds/comment-page-1/).
    4. There should be a minimum enrollment requirement for charter schools to prevent schools from receiving tax money when there is not a need or desire to enroll in their school (https://www.propublica.org/article/charter-school-power-broker-turns-public-education-into-private-profits).
  2. Quality of education
    1. Charter school teachers may not be certified or have comparable education or training as public school teachers (https://www.ncsl.org/documents/educ/teachingincharterschools.pdf).
    2. While there are a few charter school success stories, academic performance of students in charter schools does not significantly outpace that of public school students; in fact, a significant portion of charter schools nationwide perform worse than public schools (http://credo.stanford.edu/documents/NCSS%202013%20Final%20Draft.pdf, http://urbancharters.stanford.edu/news.php).   
  3. Student rights
    1. Students with special needs are not equally served by charter schools, and students from other marginalized groups may not be well served by charter schools (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/charter-schools-special-needs_us_574f0be2e4b0ed593f12e8a4).
    2. There is concern over civil rights abuses at charter schools (https://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/news/press-releases/featured-research-2016/study-finds-many-charter-schools-feeding-school-to-prison-pipeline).
  4. Democracy
    1. Public schools are accountable to the public and monitored and managed by a democratically elected school board.  Given the transparency concerns noted above, the ability of the public to hold charter schools accountable for use of public funds is diminished.