December 6, 2019 6:09 pm

Still Asleep at the Wheel

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Still Asleep at the Wheel continues our investigation of the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) that began with our March 2019 report, which you can find here. The Charter Schools Program has spent more than $4.1 billion dollars to fund new charter schools and to expand existing charter schools. In this report (which we revised in January of 2020), we document over a half-billion dollars that was wasted on defunct charter schools that had an active CSP grant from SY 2006-07 – SY 2013-14. Prior to 2006, the U.S. Department of Education did not require the states to report the names and status of the schools to which they gave CSP funds.

According to our analysis, 37% of the charter schools that were funded by CSP during those years either never opened (11%) or opened and then closed (26%). That figure is the result of our investigation of the status of nearly 5000 charter schools that received funds from CSP.

Schools that never opened, those on lists of closed schools, those that converted to district public schools, schools that lost their charter and were taken over by other operators or by the district and schools that abandoned their charter to merge with an-other charter were considered closed.  

The interactive map below provides detailed information, state by state, on the waste of federal tax dollars from active CSP grants between 2006-2014. Amounts are derived from the 2015 CSP report and thus reflect actual expenditures and/or committed amounts when the report was published. For more detail, please read our report.


Case Studies

Click on the states in blue to read that state’s case study or hover over it for the quick facts. 

AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY DC

State case studies expose the waste of federal tax dollars on charter schools that received grant money between 2006-2014 through the U. S. Department of Education Charter Schools Program and are now defunct. For each state, we list the school and the amount received as per the database published by the Department in 2015.

We did our best to get it right. If we listed a school in error, let us know and we will update. If there is a charter school in your state in the database that is closed or closing, also let us know. You can find the complete database here. Updates will be made periodically. Contact us at info@networkforpubliceducation.org

We ask that you provide evidence that the school you believe should not be on the closed list, or should be on the closed list, is indeed the school that received the grant. We have wasted enormous time on erroneous information since the report was issued.

Go here to see updates. State lists will be updated once a month.


By-the-Numbers

NPE investigated the Charter Schools Program (CSP) awards from grants that were active from 2006-2014. Below we provide a running total of how many CSP grants were awarded, what percentage of the charters that received them are now closed, and the amount of taxpayer dollars wasted.

STATES

43

GRANTS

4,829

CLOSED

1,777

PERCENT

37

WASTE

$502,468,123


Percent of CSP non-functioning grant recipient schools by state

Key: Blue 0-9%, Green 10-19%, Yellow 20-29%, Orange 30-39%, Red 40% and above. States that do not have a charter law or have never received a grant are light tan.


Media Mentions of Still Asleep at the Wheel

The Washington Post

Report: Federal government wasted millions of dollars on charter schools that never opened

More than 35 percent of charter schools funded by the federal Charter School Program (CSP) between 2006 and 2014 either never opened or were shut down, costing taxpayers more than half a billion dollars, according to a new report from an advocacy group that reviewed records of nearly 5,000 schools.

Read more:

A version of this article also appeared in the Star Tribune, The Columbian, and the Sentinel Source.

The Washington Post

The surprising source of key data in a report critical of U.S. Charter School Program

These critics argue that “Still Asleep at the Wheel” exaggerates the waste and flaws in the program. Our response is, “If you don’t believe our numbers when it comes to the failures of the program, use the numbers given to Congress by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos instead.”

Read more:

The Florida Times Union

Too trusting, too wasteful

Anyone who believes in public education or in responsibly spending tax dollars cannot in good conscience continue this wasteful program.

Let’s hope that $1 billion of misspent tax money would attract some attention in Congress.

Read more:

The Hill

Failed charter schools cost federal government almost $505M in nine years: report

Charter schools that never opened or that have opened then closed between 2006 and 2014 have cost the federal government almost $505 million, according to a recent report.

Read more:

Forbes

New Report: Charter Fraud And Waste Worse Than We Thought

Last March, the Network for Public Education released a report showing that the federal government has lost a billion dollars to charter school waste and fraud. But the organization had not stopped sifting through the data.

Read more:

Michigan Advance

The feds granted millions for Michigan charter schools that never opened. Where did the money go?

A new study from the Network for Public Education shows that 72 Michigan charter schools were granted money through the federal Charter School Program (CSP), but never enrolled a single student. Despite never opening their doors, these schools received $7.7 million from 2006 to 2014. 

Read more:

Salon

Why the federal government’s billion-dollar charter school program is a complete disaster

The report “Still Asleep at the Wheel: How the Federal Charter Schools Program Results in a Pileup of Fraud and Waste” by the Network for Public Education (NPE) calculates approximately $1.17 billion in federal funding has been spent on charters that either never opened or that opened and have since shut down.

Read more:

A version of this article can also appeared on Alternet and Citizen Truth.

Michigan Radio/NPR

Michigan charter schools got millions in taxpayer money for schools that never opened

A federal program awarded $7.7 million to charters schools in Michigan that never opened. That’s according to a report from the Network for Public Education.

A total of 257 charter schools in Michigan received money from the federal program. 72 of them never opened. No other state had that many unopened charter schools that received money from the Charter Schools Program.

Read more:

WORT Community Radio

Failed Charter Schools Cost Taxpayers Over $500 Million

Charter schools have been an expensive experiment in education, costing over $500 million for schools that never opened or have gone defunct, according to Carol Burris from the Network for Public Education. That group has recently issued a new report, and she talks with Jan about the fraud and waste in that program.

Read more:

The Progressive

Michigan charter schools got millions in taxpayer money for schools that never opened

The report, “Still Asleep at the Wheel: How the Federal Charter Schools Program Results in a Pileup of Fraud and Waste,” examines the results of taxpayer-funded grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program from 2006 to 2014. It found 1,779 grantee schools that either never opened or have since shut down—a failure rate of 37 percent. zxz

Read more:

Arkansas Times

Report details federal money wasted on defunct charter schools, including in Arkansas

The Washington Post provides a summary of a new report detailing some half-billion dollars in federal money wasted on charter schools that never opened or were shut down, including in Arkansas.

Read more:

Wisconsin Examiner

Report: millions wasted on Wisconsin charter schools that closed or never opened

A new report by the Network for Public Education, a group founded by public-education advocate and former U.S. Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, provides extensive, state-by-state data on waste in the federal charter schools program. 

Read more:

A version of this article also appeared in Urban Milwaukee.

Concord Monitor

Our Turn: The math behind the fiscal committee’s tabling of charter school grant

According to a recently published report from the Network for Public Education, between 2006 and 2014, more than 35% of charter schools – 537 schools – funded by the federal charter school program never opened or were shut down. These “ghost schools” cost taxpayers more than half a billion dollars.

Read more:

A version of this opinion piece can also be found at Seacoast Online and fosters.com.

The Morning Call

Find out which Lehigh Valley schools are included in the ‘ghost’ charter report

A report on the number of “ghost” charter schools that either never opened or were shut down included 50 schools in Pennsylvania, including two in the Lehigh Valley region.

The report, titled “Still Asleep at the Wheel,” said that more than 35% or charter schools funded by the federal Charter School Program between 2006 and 2014, were so-called “ghost” schools, costing taxpayers more than half a billion dollars.

Read more: