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Charter Schools

NEA is committed to advocating on behalf of educators, parents and students in charter schools that help drive innovative educational practices that can be reproduced broadly in schools across the nation. At the same time, we believe that ALL public schools must be held to the same high standards of accountability, transparency and equity as other taxpayer-funded schools to ensure the success of all students.

Unfortunately, of the 44 states plus the District of Columbia that have state charter school laws:

  • fully one third do not require that charters comply with the same open meetings laws and conflict of interest requirements that apply to public school boards, school districts and employees.  These are key, common sense parent, community and taxpayer protection safeguards the public rightly insists upon for all other taxpayer-funded schools.
  • more than half of the states with charter laws allow such schools to be operated as for-profits. 
  • just five states prohibit charter schools from being managed under contract by for-profit school management companies called Education Management Organizations (EMOs).

With weak regulation and lax oversight in many states with charters, other issues of major concern to students, parents, taxpayer and communities have emerged:  

  • under-funding our traditional and magnet schools: By their very nature, new charter schools drain funding from the traditional sector schools attended by roughly 95% of K-12 public school students.
  • instability: Charters are very unstable educational options – by 2010 fully a third of the charter schools that had been opened in 2000 had been closed down, usually due to extremely poor student learning or financial mismanagement.
  • waste, fraud and abuse: Government at all levels has still failed to implement systems that proactively monitor charter schools for waste, fraud, and abuse. A report from the Center for Popular Democracy documents that, absent this monitoring, the total waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement of charter school funds has now reached more than $216 million. Download the full report here (PDF, 1.1 MB, 52 pgs.)             
  • wasteful competition: Due to unregulated competition between its traditional and charter schools, Detroit found itself with 30,000 more school seats than students—all of this paid for by taxpayers.

Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud, and Abuse

Public funding for charter schools (including local, state, and federal expenditures) is now more than $30 billion annually. Despite this tremendous investment of public dollars to charter schools, and despite previous reports documenting gross financial mismanagement, government at all levels has still failed to implement systems that proactively monitor these schools for waste, fraud, and abuse. This new report from Center for Popular Democracy documents that, absent this monitoring, the total waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement of charter school funds has now reached more than $216 million. Download the full report here ( PDF, 1.1 MB, 52 pgs.)

About Charters

Charter Schools 101
The what, why and how of charters schools.

4 Features That Make A Great Charter School
All charter schools should operate in a manner that is transparent, accountable and equitable to ensure a quality education for students.

Meet the Teachers and ESPs Who Work in Charter Schools
Read what these charter school educators love about their job and what union membership means to them.

Policy and Research

Public Accountability for Charter Schools

The Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University released a set of standards for charter schools aimed at ensuring accountability, transparency and equity. The report calls for the Annenberg standards to be implemented in state and charter authorizer policies that would better serve all students and protect the public’s investment in public education.

Plans for how to address low-performing public schools differ in critical ways. Corporate-backed initiatives seek to remove local control of schools and favor the privatization of public education; proponents of community schools believe parents, teachers, and communities are the greatest assets in restoring strong educational outcomes.

Spending Blind: The Failure of Policy Planning in California Charter School Funding

When California legislators first created charter schools, their intent was clear. They sought to empower small groups of educators to launch a wide variety of innovative start-ups that, by experimenting with new approaches to education, would develop superior models fit to meet the needs of the diverse students that make up state’s school population.

However, because legislators’ vision for charter schools has not been incorporated into funding formulas, the hundreds of millions of dollars spent annually on charter facilities have not created the hoped-for incubator of innovation and continual improvement. While some charter schools have proved exemplary, much of the industry has become dominated by the same types of organizations legislators had sought to reform: large chains of schools where materials, methods, and evaluation are centrally dictated and teachers lack the power to set the curriculum; Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) that replicate a single model over and over again with little variation; and schools whose quality of education is no better than that of nearby public schools, and who do not serve to spur improvements in the wider system.

Download  the report (PDF, 59 pps, 2.2MB)


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Charter Schools Report



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Malloy Signs Charter School Transparency Bill

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed legislation increasing charter schools' transparency under the Freedom of Information Act.


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