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Holding Charter Schools Accountable

Why Are Charters Exempt from Meaningful Oversight?

Charter enrollment has doubled three times since 2000. Today, there are an estimated 6,400 charter schools in the U.S. enrolling over 2.5 million students.[i] While charter schools were originally envisioned as small-scale, innovation incubators that encouraged risk-taking—and were therefore exempted from the majority of regulations governing the traditional public school system—the explosive growth of the industry has left the risks high and the benefits unclear.

Only minimal attention is paid to the question of management in charter schools, often...

Charter enrollment has doubled three times since 2000. Today, there are an estimated 6,400 charter schools in the U.S. enrolling over 2.5 million students.[i] While charter schools were originally envisioned as small-scale, innovation incubators that encouraged risk-taking—and were therefore exempted from the majority of regulations governing the traditional public school system—the explosive growth of the industry has left the risks high and the benefits unclear.

Only minimal attention is paid to the question of management in charter schools, often leading to fraud and abuse. CPD exposed over $100 million public tax funds stolen in the charter school industry in our report, “Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud, and Abuse.” The price of having inadequate charter regulations is too high, as charter mismanagement not only wastes millions of public tax payer dollars but also puts children in actual or potential danger. Without sufficient regulations to ensure true public accountability, incompetent or unethical individuals can inflict great harm on our communities.

The Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) is working hand-in-hand with nearly 40 national and local partners to increase the level of charter school accountability. At the national level, CPD is working with a coalition including American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Education Association (NEA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Opportunity to Learn Campaign (OTL) that comprise AROS – the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools. Together with AROS members, CPD is researching and sharing the effects of a lack of charter oversight for children and communities. CPD is also working to push for charter accountability legislation that will hold charter schools to the same standards of accountability as public schools.

 

[i] Source: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools 2014 Report, Estimated Number of Public Charter Schools & Students, 2013-2014. www.publiccharters.org/wpcontent/uploads/2014/02/New-and-Closed-Report-February-20141.pdf

 

 

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