Jeff Bryant was co-author of the Report by the Network for Public Education’s on waste, fraud, and abuse in the $440 million federal Charter Schools Program. It is titled “Asleep At the Wheel: How the Federal Charter Schools Program Recklessly Takes Taxpayers and Students for a Ride.”

The report found that nearly $1 billion had been wasted in the past 25 years on charter schools that never opened or closed soon after opening.

Jeff summarized the report in this article, which has been widely reprinted in regional newspapers.

The article is a condensation of one that Jeff wrote in “The Progressive.”

“In California, the state with the most charter schools, between 2004 and 2014, 306 schools that received direct or indirect federal funding closed or never opened, 111 closed within a year, and 75 never opened at all — a 39 percent failure rate. The cost to taxpayers was more than $108 million.

“Of the charter schools in Michigan that received federal money, at least 27 never opened. Many more opened and quickly closed, and of the schools that managed to stay open, we found troubling results, including a grant recipient that received $110,000 in federal funds but is actually a Baptist Church.

“In Idaho, federal grants totaling more than $21.6 million included more than $2.3 million going to schools that never opened or closed after brief periods of service. A state commission imposed a range of academic sanctions on 13 of the 25 charter schools up for renewal in the state. Of those 13 schools, nine had received federal grants.

“At the root of these problems is the slipshod process used by the Department of Education to review charter school grant applications. We often found contradictions between the information provided by applicants and publicly available data. Numerous applications cherry-picked or massaged achievement and/or demographic data that reviewers never bothered to fact-check.”

Public money must be accompanied by public accountability. In the federal Charter Schools Program, $4 Billion has been handed out with no accountability. It’s just free money for entrepreneurs, for-profit management organizations, and grifters.

This program must be eliminated. Let the Waltons and the Koch brothers and John Arnold and Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates and other billionaires pay for their own hobby.