Key Issues


In theory, charter schools are held accountable by their authorizers, the entity given the responsibility and power to sponsor and monitor school operations. But in practice, charter schools often are accountable to no public agency. For example, in the case of the Texas Virtual Academy, a school that had failed to meet state performance standards, K12 Inc. found a “loophole for-profit companies contracting with state schools.” Instead of being paid by Southwest Schools, a charter school, K12 is being paid by Responsive Education Solutions, another charter school. The Texas Observer reports that the school is “virtually unchanged.”

Real accountability is difficult for several reasons, for brick-and-mortar and virtual charter schools alike. In some cases, greater autonomy leads to less accountability, especially for charter schools that hire for-profit providers. (See also Public Control.) States lack the resources or will to monitor the authorizers, let alone the schools themselves. (See Oversight.) Even when accountability exists in theory, regulators sometimes look the other way. In the case of Options Charter School in Washington, D.C., an official with the District of Columbia charter school board is accused not only of failing to hold the school accountable but also of participating in a scheme that enriched others at the expense of students and taxpayers.

Charter schools should follow the laws, serve students well and be good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars. Unfortunately, the combination of for-profits’ accountability to shareholder returns and weak accountability to public institutions too often leads to abuse.

Read More Show Less

Imagine Schools gets dumped

Imagine Schools finally gets dumped by the school board. The North Central Ohio Educational Service Center (the school’s sponsor) may close Imagine Columbus Primary Academy.   Members of the charter school’s board resigned amid “ongoing concerns about a high-cost building lease, teacher turnover and adequate services for students.” The board clashed with Imagine Schools “over several issues, […] Read More »

Ohio audits show charter school mismanagement

  |   Tags: Accountability, Key Issues, Oversight, Transparency

A Beacon Journal review of state audits of charter schools back to 2000 showed the following: State auditors have discovered $27,326,928 in taxpayer funds misspent at 166 charter schools. That’s nearly a third of all tax dollars spent improperly since 2001. In the past two years, charter schools accounted for more than 70 percent of […] Read More »

UnChartered Territory

The School Project made a series of documentary films about the effect of school closures on Chicago’s families and educators.  “A team of documentary filmmakers began following affected families and educators, policymakers, and advocates as the closures unfolded — and their stories became a jumping-off point for exploring so many urgent questions facing public education today.” […] Read More »