National survey shows declining support for charter schools

The charter school brand is sputtering, and the Common Core brand is toxic, according to a new nationwide survey released Tuesday.

Support for charter schools has dropped by about 12 percentage points in the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, Cambridge, Mass.-based Education Next reported in its 2017 survey.

In a survey of 4,214 adults, 39 percent of respondents said they supported charter schools, while 36 percent of respondents voiced opposition. That places the response within the survey’s margin of error of 1.5 percent.

A year ago, about 51 percent of respondents supported charter schools.

Charter schools and school choice are a centerpiece issue of the Trump administration and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. When respondents were told of Trump’s support of charter schools, 45 percent of respondents voiced support, while 32 percent were opposed.

By contrast, 54 percent of Idaho respondents said they believe local charter schools outperform traditional public schools. But in that same survey, funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, only 34 percent of respondents said they knew a great deal about charter schools.

In the Education Next survey, respondents split on two other school choice initiatives that are currently outlawed in Idaho.

Voucher programs received 45 percent support, while 37 percent of respondents were opposed. Only 37 percent of respondents supported education savings accounts, while 46 percent were opposed.

When it comes to Common Core — the controversial math and English language arts standards in effect in Idaho and most other states — labeling and framing matters.

When asked about Common Core, by name, 41 percent of respondents supported the standards, while 38 percent were opposed. Again, this response fell within the survey’s margin of error.

When asked a similar question about state academic standards, with no mention of Common Core, 61 percent of respondents voiced support.

Trump’s opposition to Common Core also produced a bump. When told of Trump’s position, 37 percent of respondents supported the standards, while 45 percent were opposed. Trump has been a vocal opponent of Common Core, although the standards have been adopted at the state level and fall outside the White House’s purview.

Education Next is a scholarly journal published by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance at the Harvard Kennedy School. Education Next describes its mission as “careful examination of evidence relating to school reform.” Click here for an interactive look at the survey.

Disclosure: Idaho Education News is funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation.



Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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