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Charter Schools

Read the NEA Policy Statement on Charter Schools
Adopted by the 2017 Representative Assembly

NEA is committed to great public schools for all students. As taxpayer-funded schools, charter schools must be held to the same safeguards and high standards of accountability, transparency and equity as public schools. 

There are 44 states plus the District of Columbia that have state charter school laws:

  • Many do not require that charters comply with the same open meetings laws and conflict of interest requirements that apply to public school boards, school districts and employees. These are commonsense protections that parents and communities rightly insist upon for all other taxpayer-funded schools.
  • None adequately prevent for-profit management and operations of its charter schools.
  • Many do not require charter school teachers to meet the same certification requirements as public school teachers.

With weak regulation and lax oversight in many states with charters, other issues of major concern to students, parents, taxpayers, and communities have emerged, such as:

  • Under-funding our neighborhood and magnet schools. By their very nature, charter schools drain funding from local public schools, which enroll over 90 percent of students in K-12 schools
  • Instability. Charters are very unstable. One out of three charter schools that opened in 2000 had closed by 2010, usually due to poor performance or financial mismanagement.
  • Waste, fraud and abuse. Governments at all levels have failed to implement systems that proactively monitor charter schools and hold them accountable. A 2016 report from the Center for Popular Democracy documents waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement of charter school funds, totaling more than $216 million. Download the full report here ( PDF, 953 KB, 52 pgs.) 
  • Wasteful competition: Due to unregulated competition between its neighborhood public schools and charter schools, Detroit found itself with 30,000 more school seats than students

Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud, and Abuse

Public funding for charter schools (including local, state, and federal expenditures) is now more than $30 billion annually. Despite this tremendous investment of public dollars to charter schools, and despite previous reports documenting gross financial mismanagement, government at all levels has still failed to implement systems that proactively monitor these schools for waste, fraud, and abuse. This new report from Center for Popular Democracy documents that, absent this monitoring, the total waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement of charter school funds has now reached more than $216 million. Download the full report here ( PDF, 1.1 MB, 52 pgs.)

About Charters

Charter Schools 101
The what, why and how of charters schools.

4 Features That Make A Great Charter School
All charter schools should operate in a manner that is transparent, accountable and equitable to ensure a quality education for students.

Meet the Teachers and ESPs Who Work in Charter Schools
Read what these charter school educators love about their job and what union membership means to them.

Policy and Research

Public Accountability for Charter Schools

The Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University released a set of standards for charter schools aimed at ensuring accountability, transparency and equity. The report calls for the Annenberg standards to be implemented in state and charter authorizer policies that would better serve all students and protect the public’s investment in public education.

Plans for how to address low-performing public schools differ in critical ways. Corporate-backed initiatives seek to remove local control of schools and favor the privatization of public education; proponents of community schools believe parents, teachers, and communities are the greatest assets in restoring strong educational outcomes.

Spending Blind: The Failure of Policy Planning in California Charter School Funding

When California legislators first created charter schools, their intent was clear. They sought to empower small groups of educators to launch a wide variety of innovative start-ups that, by experimenting with new approaches to education, would develop superior models fit to meet the needs of the diverse students that make up state’s school population.

However, because legislators’ vision for charter schools has not been incorporated into funding formulas, the hundreds of millions of dollars spent annually on charter facilities have not created the hoped-for incubator of innovation and continual improvement. While some charter schools have proved exemplary, much of the industry has become dominated by the same types of organizations legislators had sought to reform: large chains of schools where materials, methods, and evaluation are centrally dictated and teachers lack the power to set the curriculum; Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) that replicate a single model over and over again with little variation; and schools whose quality of education is no better than that of nearby public schools, and who do not serve to spur improvements in the wider system.

Download  the report (PDF, 59 pps, 2.2MB)


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Charter Schools Report



on Charter Schools (PDF)


Common Enrollment Systems: Issues & Considerations
(Brochure - PDF)



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Malloy Signs Charter School Transparency Bill

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed legislation increasing charter schools' transparency under the Freedom of Information Act.


Read additional charter school stories on