15% of charter schools close

Bad charter schools aren’t forever: Fifteen percent of charters opened since 1992 have closed, according to a Center for Education Reform report.

• Of the approximately 6,700 charter schools that have ever opened across the United States, 1,036 have closed since 1992. There are 500 additional charter schools that have been consolidated back into the district or received a charter but were unable to open.

• There are five primary reasons for charter closures – financial (41.7 percent), mismanagement (24 percent), academic (18.6 percent), district obstacles (6.3 percent) and facilities (4.6 percent).

Most charter schools that close do so within the first five years, though academic closures usually take longer.

Traditional public schools rarely close, said Jeanne Allen, president of the center.

The California Charter School Association has called for the closure of 10 low-performing charters in the state.

About Joanne


  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Last sentence:

  2. “rarely close”? I’d like to know what number of district schools have *ever* closed due to poor academic performance.

    • Between 2002 and 2010 New York City closed 117 district schools due to academic performance, and another 20-25 are due to close or phase out at the end of this academic year. A pretty good handful of the schools closed in recent years were “new” schools created post-2002 to replace low-performing schools.

      Failed charter schools in New York City only go gently into that good night if someone’s about to get indicted. It’s usually lots of pleas for second chances, layers and layers of probation, a proposed restructuring of the board, a new curriculum, playing the lawsuit card, etc. Not my idea of accountability, but as long as it’s all about the kids, I guess I can’t complain.

      • Feel free to cite a source for that tidbit about New York City district schools being closed due to poor academic performance.

        If the New York City Department of Education actually closes lousy schools well huzzah for them but I don’t believe that they do. That would put them distinctly at odds with common practice elsewhere and, oh by the way, what happens to the lousy teachers that taught at those lousy school?

        Lastly, why wouldn’t parents cling to academically doubtful charters when the result of the charter closing is their child going back to the school that parent wanted the child out of?

        • http://on.wsj.com/tQkoAn

          What happens to the teachers? They either leave the system, transfer to another school, apply for jobs in the new school(s) that open in the closed school(s) building, or enter the “Absent Teacher Reserve”.

          I wasn’t referring to parental clinging; I was referring to the operators who egregiously fail to meet the requirements of their charter yet still kick and scream and filibuster to keep their schools open. Parent opinion can be a pretty dicey way to gauge how a school is doing; e.g., feel free to use the link below to look up satisfaction rates for the schools mentioned in the WSJ/Times pieces.


          • Well then let’s all give a rousing “huzzah” to the New York Department of Education which is closing 117 schools while opening 535 schools, 139 of which are charters. Other then the charters, which aren’t pseudopods of the district, the same organization that oversaw those rotten schools with no inclination to close them until the current regime came into office is now opening schools. I wonder what’ll happen when a new mayor’s elected who doesn’t believe in such a simplistic approach to education as closing lousy schools?

            In a similar vein, how widespread has the adoption been of New York’s policy of closing lousy schools? The public education system’s quite prone to the adoption of exciting, new ideas so how’s this one going over in the hinterlands?

            It’s a rhetorical question since the idea’s clearly being forced on the district from outside, i.e. the mayor’s office, where indifference to parental concerns – i.e. folks who vote – isn’t quite so casually dismissed as in a school district. Therefor, outside New York the idea of closing schools just because they’re lousy is seen as a dangerous precedent and not to be discussed in polite company.

            As for parental opinion, however accurate it is the sincerity of that interest elevates its value in a way that ought to be challengeable only by hard evidence to the contrary. A doctor’s test results versus a parents fears for example.

            In the case of the public education system until recently, on a historical basis, there wasn’t any means by which to determine which schools were lousy and no particular inclination on the part of the public education system to fill that void. So you tell me how the professionals are supposed to determine which schools are good and which ones aren’t on any more objective basis then parents?

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    Or because the students’ parents didn’t want their kids to go there any longer.

    • Yeah, parental desires have always played such a big role in the setting of district policy I’m sure the school board would close a school because the parents didn’t like it.


  4. According to the Huffington Post, only 3% of charter schools close for academic under performance.

    37% of charter schools do a worse job than the district schools.http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/a-new-look-at-the-credo-charter-school-study/2011/10/07/gIQAl8r5aL_blog.html

    I used to work in a charter high school where the principal, who was also the school’s founder and manager, bragged that she lived in a mansion while the high school did not even have a library. Needless to say, it was an under performing school. It was never closed. I am not against charter schools, but without better oversight charter schools can become a get rich quick scheme for the unscrupulous.

  5. . . .but without better oversight charter schools can become a get rich quick scheme for the unscrupulous.

    Ah, you’ve stumbled upon the REAL purpose of today’s charter/reform movement.

    • Well then there should be an Oklahoma land rush-type expansion of the number of charter schools in Michigan since the cap was doubled to 300 schools for 2013 and comes off entirely in 2015.