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Voters Want Less Charter School Growth and More Regulation, Survey Finds

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A national poll of U.S. voters finds that although a majority of voters support charter schools, they aren't necessarily in favor of expanding them.

The survey, conducted for In the Public Interest and the Center for Popular Democracy—two groups involved in education policy and skeptical of charters—found participants largely favor charter school reform proposals such as requiring open board meetings, regular audits, and policies to help shield district schools from the impact of charter schools opening up nearby.

The two organizations are partnering to push a series of charter school accountability proposals. The initiative, called the Charter School Accountability Agenda, was unveiled in tandem with the poll results and quickly received support from the American Federation of Teachers, one of the two national teachers' unions. The proposals are based off of a September report released from Brown University's Annenberg Institute for School Reform

However, the survey also found that lack of school choice falls last on a list of education concerns, including issues such as class-size and parental involvement.

School choice last chart.JPG

Sixty-two percent of those surveyed said they either wanted the number of charter schools in their area maintained or reduced.

Forty-four percent said they favored charter schools when asked without a description of what charters are, but that number climbed to 52 percent when participants were provided a description. Eighteen percent said they opposed charter schools when not given a definition, and 38 percent said they opposed charter schools after seeing a description.

When asked if charter schools are public or private schools, 30 percent said the former and 58 percent checked the latter.

Those results are somewhat reminiscent of another poll conducted recently by Gallup, which found strong support for charter schools even though many people didn't really understand how charters work.

The public polling firm GBA Strategies surveyed 1,000 people, selected randomly from a national voter file, on behalf of the Center for Popular Democracy and In the Public Interest. You can dig into more of the survey results here.

Graph by GBA Strategies

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