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Giving Compass' Take:
• A recent poll by Education Next found that both the number of people who support and oppose charter schools has increased.
• As more charter school initiatives emerge, everyone should have accurate information about charter school expansion. How can respondents ensure they understand the data and inner-workings of the networks?
Public opinion on charter schools has grown polarized as the number of people who either support or oppose the schools has increased, according to a new poll released Tuesday by the journal Education Next. Much of the opposition is being levied by Democrats at a time when party leaders and 2020 presidential contenders have become increasingly skeptical of charters.
Among poll respondents, 48 percent said they support the formation of charter schools — a sizable jump from just two years ago, when only 39 percent of poll participants held a favorable view. In 2017, support for charters took a 12-percentage-point dip, a shift researchers said could have been driven by the Trump administration’s support for the schools.
Now, support for charter schools has nearly rebounded, a resurgence attributed primarily to Republicans. While 61 percent of Republicans this year said they support the formation of charter schools, just 40 percent of Democrats said the same.
However, as support has grown, so too has opposition, with fewer people taking a neutral position. Though 39 percent of respondents this year said they oppose charter school growth, that resistance was most profound among Democrats, 48 percent of whom said they oppose the schools. That’s a 7-percentage-point jump in Democratic opposition from 2017, while Republican opposition — at 27 percent — dropped by a modest 3 percentage points.
Martin West, editor in chief of Education Next and professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, said the growth of the charter school sector and high-profile debates over their efficacy have likely led people to stake out a position on the topic — “but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve become more knowledgeable.” Just 22 percent of respondents correctly stated that charter schools cannot hold religious services, according to the poll, and just 27 percent realized that the schools do not charge tuition.
Read the full article about poll on charter schools by Mark Keierleber at The 74.