Poll Shows Newark Voter Support for Charter Schools Remains Strong During Pandemic, but Shows Large Decline in Those Who Think Education is on Right Track

Support for Charters is Even Higher Among Black Voters, Voters with Children, and Likely Baraka Voters

According to a new public opinion poll released today, Newark voter support for public charter schools continues to be strong, just as charter school enrollment eclipsed 20,000 students this school year, or 37 percent of the student population. The poll was conducted by Change Research and commissioned by the Newark-based non-profit New Jersey Children's Foundation (NJCF), which has polled Newark voters' views on education for each of the last three years.

62 percent of Newark voters agreed that public charter schools are an important part of the public school landscape in the city, up from 60 percent in 2020 and 59 percent in 2019. 60 percent of Newark voters have a favorable opinion of the city's charter schools. By a nearly twenty point margin (42 percent to 25 percent), Newark voters said they support candidates who support the expansion of charter schools-the second straight year with similar support numbers. Also by a two-to-one margin, voters believe charter schools help - not harm - public education in the city.

But the percentage of Newark voters who say education is on the right track fell by almost 20 percentage points from 42 percent in 2020, to 24 percent in 2021, with many voters seemingly shifting to "undecided" status over the last year.

Change Research, conducted the survey using a proprietary online survey method that reached a demographically representative sample of 431 Newark voters during the dates of December 17-20, 2021 with a margin of error of +/- 4.71 percent.

"For three years in a row-and even amidst a pandemic-support for Newark's public charter schools has reached incredibly high marks," said Kyle Rosenkrans, Executive Director of the New Jersey Children's Foundation. "This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of many city leaders  who have sought alliance, harmony and collaboration amongst all public schools in the city," he added.

"However, the downward trend in right-track numbers suggests that, in this pandemic, voters are increasingly moving to the sidelines, waiting to see how leaders respond."

"This poll validates what I see every day when organizing Newark parents," added Jasmine Morrison, parent organizer and founder of Unapologetic Parentsan organization that advocates for better school options and equity in education. "Newark families trust that in public charter schools, their children will be given every opportunity to achieve their dreams. As more and more parents become unsure that Newark public schools are on the right track, families will be looking for leadership that supports our right to choose the best public school for our children."

Support for Mayor Baraka in this Spring's Municipal elections was also high, besting a generic opponent by nearly 25 points. Those likely Baraka voters supported public charter schools by a 42 point margin (69 percent favorable to 27 percent unfavorable). 66 percent of Black voters feel favorably toward charter schools, along with 67 percent of voters with children under the age of 18. Support for public charter schools extends across political divisions - more than 60 percent of both Democrats and Republicans support the city's charter schools. Lastly, support for charters amongst senior citizens (65+) was also highest amongst any of the age groups polled, at a 65% favorability.

Charter school parents are particularly enthusiastic about their children's schools. 92 percent of charter school parents feel positively about their child's school, compared with the 63 percent of district parents who feel positively about their child's district school. 

Charter schools are open-enrollment public schools run by non-profit boards with oversight by the New Jersey Department of Education, and now educate more than 20,000 students in Newark (roughly 37 percent of the citywide student population). 

The poll comes after years of growing enrollment at the city's charter schools that occurred as part of a citywide improvement strategy. That strategy resulted in Newark being home to more "Beat the Odds" public schools than any major city in America, a 10-year rise in reading and math levels among low income students that bested any other state studied, and the creation of some of the nation's highest performing public charter schools-outcomes that led a Boston University researcher to note that the benefit of attending a Newark charter school for students was "as big or bigger than 80 percent of all the other kinds of educational interventions that have ever been studied..."

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Contact:  Matthew Frankel, MDF Strategies, Matthew@MDFStrategies.com, 917.617.7914

Source: New Jersey Children's Foundation

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Categories: Educational News, Education

Tags: Charter Schools, Newark, Ras Baraka


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