Children at school (photo by Lucélia Ribeiro, Creative Commons sharealike 2.0)
A new report by the Network for Public Education, a group founded by public-education advocate and former U.S. Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, provides extensive, state-by-state data on waste in the federal charter schools program.
In Wisconsin, 46% of charter schools that received federal start-up grants between 2006 and 2014 shut down or never opened at all, the report found, at a total cost to taxpayers of $48.6 million.
The report, entitled Still Asleep at the Wheel: How the Federal Charter Schools Program Results in a Pileup of Fraud and Waste, updates an investigation of the U.S. Department of Education’s charter schools program released in March 2019 that has been cited by Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in their campaigns.
In an opinion piece in the San Jose Mercury News, Sanders targeted “billionaires like Eli Broad, the DeVos family, and the Walton family [who] are able to bankroll destructive charter school experiments to enrich investors and real-estate developers with taxpayer resources.”
Warren has called for shutting down the federal charter schools program.
Overall, of the nearly 5000 charter schools that received funds from the federal government, 37% never opened or opened and then shut down, the report states.
According to state case study, there were 289 grants given to open or expand charter schools in Wisconsin from the federal charter schools program between 2006 and 2014, of which 132 (46%) are now closed or never opened at all.
The report includes a chart of all the Wisconsin charter schools that opened with federal grant money and are now closed.
Among the schools that closed after recieving federal grants, the report lists the Milwaukee Learning Laboratory and Institute ($725,000), the Jacob Shapiro Brain Based Instruction Laboratory School ($697,000), the Kenosha eSchool ($600,000), and the Inland Seas School of Expeditionary Learning ($595,000).
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