Jeff Bryant reports here on the waste of millions of federal dollars poured into charter schools in Louisiana. 

Usually, when the media writes about New Orleans, they tell you about success stories, but they don’t mention the many failures.

Between 2006 and 2014, on the watch of both Margaret Spellings and Arne Duncan, millions of dollars were awarded to open or expand charter schools in New Orleans.

Nearly half of those charters closed their doors or never opened. Nearly $24 million was wasted.

The large numbers are bad enough. The individual stories are even worse.

While the numbers alone are startling and a cause for concern, individual examples of charters in Louisiana that received CSP money and then closed throw into further doubt the prudence of using federal seed money to spread schools that open and close, repeatedly, and fund charter organizations that churn through districts and neighborhoods without any obvious regard for what parents and local officials want.

One of the examples I singled out from Burris’ research is Benjamin Mays Prep School in New Orleans, which received a $600,000 CSP grant. Mays Prep had long-standing academic issues and persistent budget shortfalls. The school had to move to a different building in 2012 and then lost that location in 2014 when its charter wasn’t renewed and a different charter moving into the space refused to enroll the Mays students. The school closed officially in 2014.

Another New Orleans charter, Miller McCoy, received a $600,000 CSP grant but eventually closed in 2014 after “a long downward spiral,” according to a local news source. The charter school’s two founders left in 2012 under alleged ethics allegations, and the school had a series of unsuccessful leaders after that. An “F” academic rating from the state seemed to have been the final straw.

The school had promised to be equivalent to a prestigious all-male private prep school in New Orleans, only free. Its closure left the teachers and remaining students and families with “a sense of loss, sadness, a grieving for what could have been,” reported a different local news outlet.

Another New Orleans charter, Gentilly Terrace, received a $600,000 CSP grant. The school was operated by a charter management group, New Beginnings Schools Foundation, that was cited for being out of compliance with several federal laws, including misdirection of federal funds for Title I schools—­money earmarked for high-poverty students. New Beginnings also had chronic problems with employee turnoverin its schools and non-transparent practice by its board of directors.

Gentilly Terrace closed in 2014 with a “D” rating from the state’s academics report card. Recently, the CEO of New Beginnings resigned amid allegations of falsifying public records and allowing one of its three remaining schools to engage in grade-fixing.

Really, you have to wonder whether anyone at the U.S. Department of Education ever read the applications, ever followed up to see how the money was used. Or do they just hand out millions and forget about it?

This year, Betsy DeVos has $440 million to toss to her favorites. KIPP got $89 million, and no one could ever say that KIPP was needy. The IDEA corporate charter chain won $116 from their friend Secretary DeVos, adding to the many millions she give them in previous years.

The federal Charter School Fund is truly a slush fund for the corporate charter industry.