The National Education Association released its 2019 report card on the charter industry, and the findings were dismal.

As one would expect, public money+weak regulation+lax oversight=fraud, waste, and abuse.

Of the 44 states that allow charters schools (plus D.C. and Puerto Rico), only five jurisdictions rate “mediocre” or better.

The report, titled “State Charter Laws: NEA Report Card,” concludes found that nearly every state (44 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico currently have charter schools) is failing to require adequate oversight over the charter school sector. Statutes in forty states received “F” grades. Five states that have laws requiring some oversight received “mediocre” ratings, with grades ranging from “D” to “C-“.

Maryland is the only state that received an “adequate” rating – a grade of “B-”.

The report card’s grades were based on four tenets that the NEA set forth in its 2017 report:

  1. Charters must be genuinely public schools in every respect.
  2. Charters must be accountable to the public via open and transparent governance.
  3. Charters must be approved, overseen, and evaluated by local school boards.
  4. Charters must be providers of high quality education for their students.

Almost every state’s charters received a grade of F.

There have recently been comments posted on this blog insisting that Minnesota actually does have “public charter schools,” but the NEA assigns a grade of F to the charters in that state.

Overall, it’s not a pretty picture.

According to the NEA report, a number of states do not require even the most rudimentary, commonsense protections that parents and communities rightly insist upon for all other taxpayer-funded schools.  Furthermore, many states don’t bother to require charter school teachers to meet the same certification requirements as public school teachers. And in too many states, charter school operators are allowed to establish a school, almost no questions asked. Community input is either not solicited or ignored, or both. In addition, they are often given the green light despite the absence of any analysis determining if such a school is even necessary.

The report notes the growing backlash against charters, as the public realizes that they do not cost less, they are not more accountable, and they do not produce better education than the public schools they displace.

The teachers’ strikes of the past year have targeted charters as part of the Trump-DeVos-ALEC plan for privatization of public education, and striking teachers have demanded a moratorium (California) or no charter law at all (West Virginia).

The charter industry desperately needs accountability, the one thing it promised when its advocates began touting the virtues of charters in the late 1980s. That promise has not been kept, and now the charter industry threatens the financial stability of public education.