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

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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.

The Network for Public Education, an advocacy group, released a report Friday that found more than 35 percent of charter schools never opened or ended up closing down in that time frame, The Washington Post reported. Those schools received more than a half of $1 billion, or 28 percent, of the funding from the federal Charter School Program (CSP). 

Through analysis of almost 5,000 schools, researchers found almost 540 schools never opened between 2006 and 2014 but were funded $45.5 million, the report said. Michigan, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s home state, had the most charter schools that never opened at 72.

The Hill reached out to the Education Department for comment. The department did not respond to the Post’s request for comment about the report. 

Casandra Ulbrich, the president of the Michigan State Board of Education, told the Post she thought the report was “extremely troubling.”

“It raises some very legitimate questions about a federal grant program that seems to have been operating for years and years with little oversight and very little accountability,” she said.

This report served as a follow-up to a March report that found up to $1 billion went to charter schools that never opened or that ended up closed, according to the Post. Democrats requested to curtail funding from the CSP in response to that report.

DeVos has prioritized school choice and championed charter schools during her tenure. Charter schools are privately operated but publicly financed, and supporters see them as alternatives to public schools. Opponents say these schools have minimal accountability.

Tags Betsy DeVos Charter School Program charter schools Education Department Network for Public Education

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