December 29, 2011

The State of Charter Schools: What We Know and What We Do Not

As pressure mounts to reform the nation’s public schools, some parents are opting instead to send their children to charter schools, which often promise higher test scores and a better education, and those charter schools that don’t live up to performance expectations – an estimated 15 percent over the last two decades – permanently close their doors, a new report from The Center for Education Reform has found.

The organization, amidst the continued debate over the effectiveness of charter schools, last week issued its in-depth analysis The State of Charter Schools What We Know—and What We Do Not—About Performance and Accountability, partly in response to both opponents and supporters who claim that charter schools do not face consequences for poor performance.

That, says The President of The Center for Education Reform, Jeanne Allen, is a fallacy. Since 1992, an estimated 6,700 charter schools have opened and in the ensuing two decades approximately 1,036 of those charter schools have been closed.

“All too often, supporters and opponents of charter schools claim that bad charter schools don’t close,” says Allen. “The truth is charter schools that don’t measure up are closing at a rate of 15 percent. Regrettably, the same can’t be said for traditional public schools.”

But, underperformance is only one of five main reasons for charter school shut downs, the report found. Other common reasons for closing a charter school include: financial problems, facilities, mismanagement, and district challenges.

Financial problems, in fact, are the top reason for the closing of charter schools in the United States, accounting for nearly 42 percent of all charter school closures. For a charter school to be successful, it must first have enough students enrolled, which provides the school with public funding.

Charter schools, unlike public schools, receive considerably less funding – 68 percent less – to spend on running its facilities and to pay operating costs. That often puts charters at a distinct financial disadvantage and leads to a high closure rate.  (Written by Beth Williams in Teacher Certification Degrees)


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