Washington, D.C. As the Virginia General Assembly considers proposals that would allow for more charter public schools to open in the state, a new poll shows that support for these measures is high among Virginia voters.
In a statewide poll released by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, of 600 likely voters, 72 percent favor having more charter public schools. Only 22 percent are opposed, with 6 percent who are unsure. Support jumps in the metro Richmond area with fully 81 percent saying they favor more charter public schools.
Virginia legislators are considering two proposals, SJ 6 and HJ 1, which would allow voters to decide whether to amend the state constitution to allow the state board of education, in addition to school divisions, to authorize charter schools. Sixty percent of voters are in favor of such an amendment, with 33 percent who oppose and 7 percent who are unsure.
Further, support for attributes common in charter schools was overwhelming. Ninety-two percent favor holding students, teachers, and parents accountable for improving student achievement. Eighty-eight percent favor giving more freedom to hire only the best teachers. Finally, a strong majority of voters favor giving more options when choosing a public school for their children by an 84 to 14 percent margin.
"The results of this survey clearly show that, by wide margins, Virginia voters are looking for better public school options and greater choice when it comes to their students education," said Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. "When presented with a chance to choose the attributes that they would most like to see in Virginia's schools, voters overwhelmingly favored characteristics most commonly found in charter public schools."
"The more familiarity with charter schools that Virginians have, the more supportive they are of them," said Don Soifer, executive vice president of the Virginia-based Lexington Institute. "There is a strong link between high quality authorizing and strong schools, and a statewide charter authorizer could bring expertise and resources to that crucial work. The proposals being debated would significantly increase families access to high quality charter public schools in Virginia."
The poll also looked at views on the potential of rural charter schools in Virginia. Historically, the state has not had charter schools in rural areas. When asked their support or opposition to allowing families in rural areas the ability to enroll their children in charter schools, 72 percent favored this, with 19 percent opposing and 10 percent undecided.
The poll was conducted in January by The Tarrance Group, a strategic research and polling firm based in Alexandria, Virginia, on behalf of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
About Charter Schools
Charter schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Since 2010, many research studies have found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. For example, one study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that charter schools do a better job teaching low income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English than traditional schools. Separate studies by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood.
About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter movement. For more information, please visit www.publiccharters.org.