April 15, 2019 3:51 pm

Asleep at the Wheel:

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This report details the Network for Public Education’s two month examination of the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program (CSP). Our investigation found a troubling pattern of insufficient applicant review, contradictions between information provided by applicants and available public data, the gifting of funds to schools with inadequate financial and governance plans, a push-out of large grants to the states with little supervision by the department, and the waste of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.

By comparing claims made by charter grant applicants to information on state databases and school websites, we found numerous examples of federal tax dollars being misspent due to an inattentive process that routinely accepts applicants’ claims without scrutiny.

We found that it is likely that as many as one third of all charter schools receiving CSP grants never opened, or opened and shut down. In fact, the failure rates for grant-awarded charter schools in California has reached nearly four in ten.

American taxpayers have a right to demand that their tax dollars not be wasted. Tax dollars that flow to charter schools that never opened or quickly close should not be considered the cost of doing business. And a program with a stated commitment to spread “high-quality” schools should not be a major funding source for schools that leave families in the lurch and promote discriminatory enrollment practices that increase segregation and unequal opportunity for students with disabilities, behavioral challenges or English language learner status. We cannot afford to continue to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into a program whose stewards are clearly asleep at the wheel.


Case Studies

Click the buttons below to read five state case studies that expose the waste of federal tax dollars on charter schools that received grant money through the U. S. Department of Education Charter Schools Program. The schools we list either never opened or opened and closed.

In the weeks to come, please return as we add more state case studies to the website.


Media Mentions of Asleep at the Wheel

The Washington Post

Report: U.S. government wasted up to $1 billion on charter schools and still fails to adequately monitor grants

The U.S. government has wasted up to $1 billion on charter schools that never opened, or opened and then closed because of mismanagement and other reasons, according to a report from an education advocacy group.

Read more:

EdWeek

Feds Spent Hundreds of Millions on Charters That Shut Down or Never Opened, Report Says

The federal government has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars to charter schools that have shuttered or have never opened, according to an analysis by the Network for Public Education.

Read more:

Alternet

Here’s how charter schools are scamming the US government

A new report issued by the Network for Public Education provides a detailed accounting of how charter schools have scammed the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) for up to $1 billion in wasted grant money that went to charters that never opened or opened for only brief periods of time before being shut down for mismanagement, poor performance, lack of enrollment, or fraud. 

Read more:

Medium

Charter schools are starting to look a lot like payday lenders and for-profit colleges

The growing charter school industry is so scandalous there’s a daily hashtag for its problems: #AnotherDayAnotherCharterScandal.

But this week has been more of a doozy than usual.

First, the Network for Public Education (NPE) released a report tallying the jaw-dropping number of public dollars the federal government has wasted funding charter schools.

That number? $1 billion. At least.

Read more:

Forbes

Report: The Department Of Education Has Spent $1 Billion On Charter School Waste And Fraud

In 1994, the Charter School Fund was added to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA); in 1995 it began dispersing federal funds to states so that states could use the money to pilot charter schools. Since then, the CSP has handed over about $4 billion to support charter schools, and there are supposed to be some federal guidelines attached to the process. But a new report from the Network for Public Education charges that roughly $1 billion of that has been lost to fraud and waste in the charter school sector. Findings of the report were brought to the attention of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos during this week’s hearings; her responses were not encouraging.

Read more:

The Progressive

New Report Spurs Congress to Question Up to $1 Billion Wasted on Charter Schools

The report, titled “Asleep at the Wheel: How the Federal Charter Schools Program Recklessly Takes Taxpayers and Students for a Ride,” made big waves for a reason. It found that up to $1 billion awarded by the U.S. Department of Education Charter Schools Program—in more than 1,000 grants—was wasted on charter schools that never opened or opened for only brief periods before being shut down for mismanagement, poor performance, lack of enrollment, and fraud.

Read more:

Capital and Main

Have Charters Already Gamed Gavin Newsom’s Schools Task Force?

By the way, any task force studying charter fiscal impacts will definitely want to read “Asleep at the Wheel,” a jaw-dropping examination of federally mismanaged largesse that authors Carol Burris and Jeff Bryant estimate has squandered as much as $1 billion in charter school “seed” grants. The study, which was released on Tuesday by advocacy nonprofit Network for Public Education, focuses on the 25-year administrative and oversight disaster known as the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP). 

Read more:

The Washington Post

The single most telling sentence Betsy DeVos said to Congress this week

And she repeatedly stated: “We need more charter schools and not less,” when asked about different issues, including a report from an education advocacy group that found $1 billion in federal money has been wasted on the U.S. Charter Schools Program.

Read more:

Raw Story

How charter schools are scamming the US government

A new report issued by the Network for Public Education provides a detailed accounting of how charter schools have scammed the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) for up to $1 billion in wasted grant money that went to charters that never opened or opened for only brief periods of time before being shut down for mismanagement, poor performance, lack of enrollment, or fraud. 

Read more

Education Town Hall Forum

Asleep at the Wheel on Charters

Jeff Bryant, co-author of the new report, Asleep at the Wheel How the Federal Charter Schools Program Recklessly Takes Taxpayers and Students on a Ride, shares some of the findings from his recent work. Dr. Denisha Jones, co-producer of the Education Town Hall BUS and national organizer with BadAss Teachers, United Opt-Out, and Save Our Schools March, joins the conversation.

Read more:

Common Dreams

3 Questions That ‘Created Havoc’ in Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education

Read more

The Morning Call

Commentary: Why we should stop federal funding of charter schools

Read more:

NH Labor News

The US Dept of Education Gave Out Nearly One Billion Dollars To Charter Schools That Never Even Opened

Read more

Detroit Free Press

Betsy DeVos: Deep cuts to Special Olympics, student programs are warranted

Read more:

Idaho Ed News

National Report Blasts Charters – Including Idaho Programs

Read more

St. Louis Post Dispatch

Editorial: Expanding charter schools to metro counties could hurt suburban school districts

Read more:

Education Dive

3 big takeaways from the Ed Dept congressional budget hearings

Read more

The Connecticut Mirror

DeLauro takes on DeVos failed charter schools, education budget cuts

Read more:

The Columbus Dispatch

National report cites Ohio as an example of larger problems in charter schools

Read more