The Network for Public Education released a shocking report about waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal charter school program. 

This year, Congress handed out $440 million to charter schools, many of which will never open or quickly close. Trump and DeVos want to increase the annual sum to $500 million.

The Washington Post covered the findings. Valerie Strauss writes:

”The U.S. government has wasted up to $1 billion on charter schools that never opened, or opened and then closed because of mismanagement and other reasons, according to a report from an education advocacy group. The study also says the U.S. Education Department does not adequately monitor how its grant money is spent.

“The report, titled “Asleep at the Wheel” and issued by the nonprofit advocacy group Network for Public Education, says:

  • More than 1,000 grants were given to schools that never opened, or later closed because of mismanagement, poor performance, lack of enrollment or fraud. “Of the schools awarded grants directlyfrom the department between 2009 and 2016, nearly one in four either never opened or shut its doors,” it says.
  • Some grants in the 25-year-old federal Charter School Program (CSP) have been awarded to charters that set barriers to enrollment of certain students. Thirty-four California charter schools that received grants appear on an American Civil Liberties Union list of charters “that discriminate — in some cases illegally — in admissions.”
  • The department’s grant approval process for charters has been sorely lacking, with “no attempt to verify the information presented” by applicants.
  • The Education Department in Republican and Democratic administrations has “largely ignored or not sufficiently addressed” recommendations to improve the program made by its own inspector general.

“Our investigation finds the U.S. Department of Education has not been a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars in its management of the CSP,” it says.”

Carol Burris, executive director of NPE, is briefing key members of Congress today about this wasteful program.