Statewide Poll Indicates Pennsylvanians Support Public School Choice
October 26, 2011
The results are in: The majority of PA residents support public school choice.
The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools in partnership with Susquehanna Polling and Research recently conducted a statewide survey to determine how taxpayers view charter and cyber charter schools. The survey results indicate that residents across the Commonwealth recognize the value of a charter school education, as the percentage of Pennsylvanians who support public school choice continues to trend upwards when compared to results from surveys conducted in 2005, 2006 and 2008. The number of people in favor of charter and cyber charters has never been higher.
Conducted October 13-19, 2011, this most recent survey sampled a pool of 725 registered voters. Reflecting the bi-partisan nature of the issue, the respondents’ were evenly distributed across party lines, with forty-three percent identifying themselves as registered Republicans, fifty percent as Democrats, and seven percent as Independents.
Widespread Support for Charter School throughout the Commonwealth
Sixty-nine percent of survey respondents said that they support the charter school option for families seeking public school choice. Only twenty-one percent are opposed to charter schools, and ten percent are undecided.
Pennsylvanians Support Cyber Charter Schools
Fifty-two percent of those surveyed support keeping cyber charter schools as another option within the public school system. Thirty-eight percent are opposed, and nine percent are undecided.
Majority Favors Increased Accountability for Quality Charter And Cyber Charter Schools
Sixty-six percent of survey respondents indicated that they would be more likely to support charter schools if they knew that were held to high accountability standards. Likewise, when asked separately about cyber charter schools, fifty-seven percent of those surveyed would be more likely to support cyber charter schools if they knew that the schools had greater oversight and accountability. Twenty-four percent indicated that increased accountability would not have an impact on their likelihood of supporting charter or cyber charter school. Seven percent remain undecided.
Charter and cyber charter schools are tuition-free public schools funded by tax dollars and authorized by individual school districts or the state Department of Education. In exchange for greater accountability, charter schools are given the flexibility to innovate. Charter schools are held to the same standards as traditional public schools, with charter school students taking the same academic assessments as other public school students. With more than 90,000 K-12 students currently enrolled in charter schools throughout the Commonwealth and another 30,000 students on enrollment waiting lists, it is evident that Pennsylvania families value public school choice and are pleased by the kind of education students receive at high-quality charter schools.
“The survey clearly indicates that the majority of Pennsylvania residents have embraced public school choice and that the establishment of greater accountability for high quality charter schools would only increase their support,” said PCPCS President Lawrence Jones, Jr. “The results come at a time when charter school reform is a critical crossroads in our state government. We encourage legislators to consider the will of the people of Pennsylvania rather than entrenched self interest groups as they vote on current legislation that supports the expansion of families’ access to public school choice.”
About the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools (PCPCS)
PCPCS is dedicated to Choice, Quality, and Accountability in Public Education. We advocate for legislation and policies that support those objectives and provide assistance to charter schools, with the aspiration of making every charter school in Pennsylvania a high performing public school. More than 90,000 children are enrolled in 162 charter schools throughout the Commonwealth and more than 30,000 are on waiting lists. For more information on PCPCS or charters schools, visit www.pacharters.org.