Carol Burris writes in The Progressive about the alarming rate with which charters close. Parents should know this before enrolling their children and taking a chance.

She writes:

In May, a study by the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH) at Tulane University found that charter schools close at much higher rates than public schools, even when controlling for factors such as enrollment and test scores. Each year, roughly 5 percent of charters close, compared with 1 percent of public schools.

But REACH’s data likely underestimates the problem. Because so many new charter schools open each year, the closure rate is offset by the overall growth of the industry. And a new charter opening in Columbus, Ohio, is of little help to a student whose charter just closed in Memphis, Tennessee.

To more accurately capture the big picture, we at the Network for Public Education published a report on the long-term viability of charter schools. We looked at seventeen cohorts, each composed of all U.S. charters that opened in a given year, beginning in 1998 and ending in 2014. Our goal was to track these schools over time and see how they fared when compared with one another. We found that, by year three, an average of 18 percent of charters had closed. By year ten, the proportion of failed charters topped 40 percent.

Enrollment data for the year before each school closed indicated that charter schools opening between 1999 and 2017 have collectively displaced upwards of one million students—often with almost no warning.

The alarming rate of charter school closures prompted the U.S. Department of Education to direct federal startup funding to schools more likely to succeed. But even modest proposals have met stiff resistance from the charter lobby. For them, the closures are seen positively: It is “the sector working as intended,” Chalkbeat reported, citing National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Chief Executive Officer Nina Rees.

And she’s right—charter churn, including abrupt closures, is baked into the marketplace model that believes only the most popular performers should survive. The three recent closings in North Carolina, however, were not based on popularity, or even low test scores—they were the result of greed and fraud.

To prevent this, government officials at all levels need to tighten regulations and hold charter school boards accountable. Until government officials get serious about charter school reform, each parent or guardian who enrolls their child in a charter school deserves a notice that says, “Caution: This school could close with little to no warning.”