Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "charter schools" ...

  • Arizona Republic: The Charter Gamble

    Reporting by Craig Harris, starting in the spring, revealed one questionable deal after another with Arizona charter schools, as his reporting detailed how the industry had created millionaires through insider deals. By the time lawmakers were calling for reforms, The Arizona Republic built a team to take the next big bite. The deep dive by Harris, along with Anne Ryman, Justin Price and Alden Woods, spun out a five-part series that told the story of Arizona’s charter schools from inception to present day.
  • Charter Schools Unsupervised

    Florida’s charter-school laws were intended to spur innovation and provide academic freedom to charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run. But a Sun Sentinel investigation found the state’s loose laws also opened the door to abuses, allowing renegade operators to claim taxpayer dollars for schools that fail to serve students and quickly shut down, sometimes within weeks of opening. Charter Schools Unsupervised uniquely pieced together the rash of fly-by-night charter schools and recurring failures of unscrupulous operators, uncovering fundamental weaknesses in state and local oversight. The newspaper's reporting did what the state and school district vetting process failed to do: exposed troubled histories and questionable practices among charter-school operators in South Florida.
  • The Rise and Fall of a Patrón

    Our investigation showed how powerful political alliances helped United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) grow from a community group into a multimillion-dollar enterprise operating 16 taxpayer-funded charter schools, a janitorial firm and other businesses. We found a lack of oversight of charter school finances and operations cleared the way for alleged abuse. Specifically: UNO received more than $280 million in public money over the past five years but neither Chicago Public Schools nor the Illinois State Board of Education closely monitored how funds were spent. A large portion of the public money UNO collects goes to management fees, debt service and consultants rather than classrooms.
  • State of Charter Schools

    With FOIA requests, scores of interviews and school visits, reviews of thousands of documents and a deep analysis of academic data, the Detroit Free press revealed a $1-billion-a-year charter school system with weak state oversight. The result? Little transparency on how taxpayer money is spent, conflicts of interest often unchecked, some school operators lining their pockets, failing schools staying open year after year – and many children not getting the quality education that charter advocates envisioned 20 years ago. Our reporting showed Michigan has twice as many for-profit companies running schools than any other state, with weak accountability requirements that companies find attractive.
  • UNO: For insiders, charter schools pay

    This investigation exposed millions of dollars in insider deals made by a major operator of taxpayer-financed, privately run charter schools in Chicago. It prompted: the freezing of state funding; the ouster of the organization's top two officials; two state investigations; and one federal investigation.
  • Bill in an Instant

    The American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC, got lots of attention last year because of the national backlash over its role in pushing “stand your ground” gun legislation. But the secretive ALEC’s main mission is to craft ready-made business-friendly bills for Statehouses across the nation, and it’s had lots of success in states with Republican governors and Legislatures. After a six-month investigation, Star-Ledger reporter Sal Rizzo found ALEC’s bills had reached New Jersey, where Republican Gov. Chris Christie gained a national reputation as a reform-minded chief executive. Rizzo found his biggest legislative proposals for teachers and charter schools -- as well as some budgetary and environmental policies -- appeared to have been drafted by ALEC. In some cases, passages in laws and executive orders matched ALEC model bills word-for-word. Rizzo’s project was groundbreaking, showing New Jersey’s connections for the first time, researching how ALEC operates and explaining concerns about how its influence is growing as it avoids disclosure requirements. From his report, readers learned how this is a new form of lobbying, invisible to the public and free of disclosure requirements.
  • The profit motive behind virtual schools in Maine

    This two-part investigative report revealed the troubling degree to which the nation’s largest for-profit online education companies – and Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education -- are steering the development of Maine’s digital education policies, especially those applying to full-time virtual charter schools. Two companies – K12 Inc and Connections Learning – have applied to open such schools here in Maine, but have questionable track records elsewhere in the country.
  • Charters Go Off Course

    An investogation of why charter schools in Ohio are still failing to meet the goal of the state's annual report card, based largely on mandatory proficiency test results.
  • King High Charter Controversy

    The King Charter stories reveal that two public officials- Dwight Evans, a state legislator, and Robert Archie, chair of the city's school governance board- collaborated on a secret campaign to steer a lucrative charter school contract to a politically connected private contractor.
  • No Choice: Florida Charter Schools Failing to Serve Students with Disabilities

    While Florida law says schools aren't allowed to turn kids away because it's too expensive to educate them, there is a loophole. The law says students with severe disabilities can only go to schools that provide the services they need. However, the investigation finds that most Florida charter schools do not offer those services.