December 8, 2023

Shawgi Tell: 2,315 Charter Schools Failed And Closed In 11 Years

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Shawgi Tell, author of Charter School Report Card, looks at the huge number of charter school failures.

Although they have been around for more than 30 years, and although they are frequently touted as being superior to public schools, the U.S Department of Education reports that between 2010-11 and 2021-22, an 11-year period, 2,315 charter schools failed and closed in the U.S.

That is a huge number of school closures in a short time frame. By any measure, it is hard to call such a phenomenon “successful.”

And this figure probably does not capture the real number of charter schools that have failed and closed over the years, leaving thousands of parents, students, teachers, education support staff, and principals violated and out in the cold.

In 2024, hundreds more charter schools will fail and close, leaving many more people feeling angry and disillusioned. The same will happen in 2025 as well, further tarnishing the reputation of charter schools.

Charter school promoters casually assert that such failure and closure are great and fantastic. “Free market” failure is supposedly an unassailable timeless virtue even if it effectively disrupts, violates, and harms thousands of people every year for completely avoidable reasons. What’s more, there is apparently no alternative to this outdated set-up. Disorder, volatility, and leaving people high and dry are considered inevitable and the “best of all worlds.”

In this obsolete outlook, instability and chaos are misequated with “innovation” and “improvement.” “Failure” becomes “success” and disruption and anarchy become “progress.” Reality is turned upside down in this view which renders everything in a detached and abstract way, as if real people and real injury are not involved when charter schools close every week (often abruptly and mid-year), forcing many to scramble stressfully to find a new school.

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