Controversy for the District of Columbia School Reform Act of 1995

Not all charter schools in the city are (or have been) effective. The PCSB closes charter schools every year, while other failing charters are absorbed by higher-performing charter schools. During its fifteen-year history, the Public Charter School Board has been criticized for conflicts of interest and a lack of accountability on the part of board members; some officials who oversee charters have been involved in making private financial loans to the schools.

Opponents of charter schools argue that the PCSB should close more low-performing schools, or provide more support to struggling schools. In 2005, out of the thirty-four charter schools in DC only four made Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) in reading and mathematics as mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act. According to data published by the PCSB, only five out of eighteen charter high schools in D.C. made AYP in reading and math.

Another criticism is that charter schools encourage re-segregation in public schools. In an effort to give all students an opportunity for a good education, many charter schools are located in inner-city areas (and, therefore, serve mostly minority students). Even in racially diverse communities, charter schools do not reflect the demographic diversity of the community. Opponents of charter schools contend that they are returning education to the era of "separate, but equal". Some opponents of charter schools argue that the de facto segregation propagated by Washington's charter schools will result in fewer opportunities for low-income and minority students to interact with people from diverse backgrounds, hindering their preparedness for higher education and the job market.