Americans Once Again Endorse Chartering and Public School Choice

The results are in. The headlines of the 2015 PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward Public Schools are that Americans don’t like standardized testing and that lack of financial support is noted as the biggest problem facing local schools.

For me, the biggest surprise from the poll results is that American acceptance of chartering and public school choice has become so stable over recent years that it hardly makes the highlights in the press release.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans continue to support public school choice and chartering, with 64% of Americans favoring both. 25% of Americans oppose chartering and 26% oppose public school choice.

By comparison, only 31% of Americans favor allowing students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public expense, commonly known as vouchers.

What was new in this year’s results was the breakdown among respondents.  While 75% of Republicans and 71% of Independents favor chartering, only 50% of Democrats do so. 37% of Democrats oppose chartering, as compared with 17% of Republicans and 20% of Independents. As the Democratic legislative author of chartering, this troubles me. Chartering has always been bipartisan from its origins, and I fear that in some states, it has become mixed in with the partisan debate. We must work to change that.

While the numbers were roughly similar politically for public school choice (Independents favored public school choice at slightly lower rate of 62%), this poll showed strong support among all ethnic groups. Blacks favored public school choice 68-20%, Hispanics favored it 63-26% and Whites favored it 64-26%.

What factors are important to parents in choosing a school? How do Americans measure the effectiveness of today’s schools? Check out Thursday’s blogpost.