A recent national poll is giving lawmakers new incentive to push for charter schools that are more transparent and accountable to students, parents, and the taxpayers who invest in them.
The poll shows overwhelming public support for measures addressing fraud, mismanagement, and poor student performance linked to charter schools. Improving teacher training and qualifications, preventing fraud, serving high-needs children, and making sure that traditional public schools are not hurt by charter schools also received strong support from those surveyed.
The survey, which involved 1,000 registered voters, was released by In the Public Interest (ITPI) and the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD). CPD also released a recent report alleging that tens of millions of dollars have been lost to charter schools nationwide due to fraud and mismanagement.
“$100 million in taxpayer dollars have been wasted and over 100-thousand children attend charter schools that are failing to meet the needs of children,” said Kyle Serrette, director of education at CPD. “It’s time for lawmakers to add stronger oversight provisions before more money is lost and more children are enrolled in failing charter schools.”
Some of the poll’s other key findings include the following:
- 62 percent of voters want to hold constant or reduce the number charters in their area;
- 63 percent rate the quality of education at public schools in their neighborhood as excellent or good;
- 68 percent hold a favorable view of public school teachers; and
- When it comes to problems facing K-12 education, school choice ranks last.
Overwhelming majorities, some as high as 89 percent, also indicated support for proposals contained in the Charter School Accountability Agenda being pushed by ITPI and CPD. The Charter School Accountability Agenda contains the groups’ solutions for making sure that charter schools fulfill their original purpose—to serve as incubators for new and innovative ways of teaching and learning that could later be adopted by traditional public schools. The proposals are based on standards outlined in the Annenberg Institute’s report for improving charter schools.
Charter school growth has increased exponentially in recent years but critics charge that lawmakers have done very little in developing standards to ensure that these schools give all students a quality education and are accountable to the communities they serve. Currently, more than 2 million students attend the nation’s more than 6,000 charter schools, which make up 6.3 percent of all taxpayer-funded K-12 schools.