Education Next published the results of its latest poll on education issues. As with all polls and studies, these results should be taken with many grains of salt. But Education Next is a serious publication and it has been conducting these polls for awhile, so its numbers are worth a serious look. For me, the most surprising result is that the support for charter schools is down, significantly. More on that, and other findings.
When Education Next first asked the charter school question in 2013, 51 percent supported charters and 26 percent opposed them. In the most recent poll, the numbers converged: 39 percent supporting, 37 percent opposed. The results held pretty steady until this year, when both sides changed about 12 percent. Why has support weakened? I have no idea, but interestingly, it’s not connected to political party. Republicans tend to like charters more than Democrats, but both groups’ support slipped by nearly the same amount. If this is a real trend which continues over the next few years, the charter movement’s growth could slow considerably.
Support for vouchers went up a bit this year, and opposition declined. Lumping together tuition tax credits and government-funded vouchers, support is about 50 percent and opposition is about 35 percent. But a funny thing happens when the question refers to the use of “government funds” to pay for the vouchers. Support drops to 37 percent, and opposition rises to 49 percent. The public likes the idea of helping people pay for private school until they realize they’re the ones footing the bill.
When it comes to people’s local schools, 54 percent gave them an A or B, which, along with last year, is the highest score since 2007 when the question was first asked. As always, national schools scored lower, with 24 percent getting an A or B—”Schools suck, except for my school” seems to be the consensus—but that’s still the high mark. For all the trash talk about public schools, they seem to be climbing in favorability.
Support for Common Core has been on a downward slide since 2013, from 65 percent to the current 41 percent, while opposition has risen from 13 percent to 38 percent. But when the term “Common Core” is left out of the question and people are asked if they support “standards for reading and math that are the same across states,” support is at 61 percent and opposition is at 20 percent. The brand has lost its luster, but apparently the public still likes the general idea.
Lots more can be found in the polling if you want to dig into the results yourself.