Wednesday, February 26, 2020
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Poll: support for charters drops 12%

A national poll conducted by Education Next, a journal published by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, concludes that support for charter schools has fallen in the US, most notably among black and Hispanic populations, Education Week reports.

Only 39 percent of more than 4,000 people surveyed for the report said they supported charter schools, down from 51 percent last year. About 36 percent of the people said they specifically opposed charter schools.

Some charter school advocates have expressed concern that vocal support from a polarizing president could actually hurt their cause, the report’s authors noted. I would add that extreme policy moves on the part of the president’s education secretary has also hurt the cause of privately run, publicly funded schools.

“The rhetoric we hear from the Trump people, ‘Choice is good, and school districts are bad,’ sets us back a decade,” the report quoted Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, as saying. “The last thing we need is for the president to play into that narrative.”

Shavar Jeffries, president of Democrats for Education Reform, said, “I can’t think of anything more potentially harmful to the charter school movement, or anything more antithetical to its progressive roots, than having Donald Trump as its national champion.”

Little light was shed on the fact that increasingly vocal opposition to charter schools may have had just as big an impact on people’s opinions as the president’s personal views. The NAACP, for example, recently called for a moratorium on the creation of new charter schools, and comedians like John Oliver on HBO have been ripping into the corruption underlying the operations at many charter schools. Furthermore, the drop in support is somewhat expected given recent ballot questions about school choice.

The report, issued today, covers 10 main topics, including the aforementioned charter schools and other “school choice” initiatives like vouchers. Support for tax credits or any kind of voucher program has also fallen, though the results are not as dramatic as those for charter schools.

(Source: Education Next)

Other important findings include:

  • Support for using the same academic standards from one state to another has risen since 2016, as long as the “brand name” of Common Core is not mentioned. When the Common Core name is stated, the level of support remains essentially the same as it was one year ago, but when the question simply asks about standards “that are the same across the states,” public support rises by 5 percent over what was observed last year.
  • Mr Trump’s support for key school reform ideas didn’t seem to affect people’s opinions, although the methodology used in the polling was somewhat unorthodox as it didn’t ask directly if the person was aware of Mr Trump’s positions.
  • About two-thirds of Americans prefer that students whose native tongue is not English be immersed in English-only classrooms. The public is equally divided as to whether school districts should receive extra federal assistance if they have a sizable percentage of immigrant students.
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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