National poll: support for charter schools shows sharp increase among all demographics

Buddy Moorehouse
Aug 26, 2018 11:36:23 PM

LANSING, Michigan (August 22, 2018) – A new national poll shows that overall support for charter schools has jumped five percentage points in the past year. The poll by Educational Next also revealed an increase in support among all political and racial subgroups. 

Following a decline in support in the 2017 poll, the 2018 poll showed a substantial rebound, with 44 percent of overall respondents saying they favor charter schools, while 35 percent say they oppose them; 21 percent had no opinion. The actual question asked was, “Do you support or oppose the formation of charter schools?”

Support for charter schools was particularly strong among Black respondents (46 percent support, compared to just 28 percent opposed) and Hispanic respondents (49 percent support, 33 percent opposed). Those are sharp increases from 2017, when 37 percent of Blacks and 39 percent of Hispanics said they supported charter schools. 

Politically, there was an increase of support among both Republicans and Democrats. The poll showed that 57 percent of Republicans support charters, compared to just 27 percent who oppose them. That’s a huge jump from the 2017 poll, when 47 percent of Republicans voiced support.

Among Democrats, the poll showed that 36 percent support charter schools, up from 34 percent last year. 

Dan Quisenberry, President of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA), the state charter school association, said the poll is more evidence that charter schools shouldn’t be a political issue.

“Even in the face of unrelenting attacks by adults who are only concerned with their own selfish interests, charter schools continue to enjoy widespread support,” Quisenberry said. “The defenders of educational bureaucracy have taken their best shot, and now we’re seeing that public support for charter schools is still strong and growing. What’s most revealing about this poll is that the communities that have benefited the most from charter schools – African-American and Hispanic parents and students – are the ones who show the strongest support. You can’t fool parents. They know the difference that charter schools have made in the life of their children.” 

Quisenberry also noted that the Education Next poll comes on the heels of a poll by Democrats for Education Reform, released earlier this month, that shows overwhelmingly strong support for education reforms like charter schools. 

The poll asked constituent groups that normally align with the Democratic Party to respond to a variety of questions about school choice and reform. According to an analysis of the poll in The 74 Million, “About 65 percent of voters said access to public charter schools, magnet schools, and career academies “no matter where [people] live or how much money they have” is a very important priority (a 6 or 7 on the 7-point scale). Latino and Democratic primary voters closely aligned with this percentage, compared with an overwhelming 86 percent of black voters.”

Quisenberry said these are all responses that politicians should take to heart.

 “What we’re hearing in this election year is that parents across the spectrum don’t want their kids to be used as political footballs,” Quisenberry said. “They want schools that put kids first.  Parents want schools that give teachers freedom to teach, and parents want to choose that school. They don’t care what kind of schools they are.”

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