Don’t know much about charter schools

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Editor’s note: Continuing our review of the latest Education Next annual survey, redefinED looks today at the public’s knowledge level – or lack thereof – of charter schools. Based on those surveyed, it appears most Americans lack a full understanding of charter schools and the policies that govern them, and they’re no better informed now than they were when EdNext posed the same questions in 2012.

What was asked

·       To the best of your knowledge, can charter schools hold religious services?

·       To the best of your knowledge, can charter schools charge tuition?

The responses

When asked if charter schools can hold religious services, only 22 percent gave the correct answer – they cannot. The percent was similar in 2012. Meanwhile, a whopping 60 percent admitted they don’t know if charter schools can hold religious services or not, similar to the percent in 2012.

When asked if charter schools can charge tuition, only 27 percent of respondents in 2019 knew they cannot, compared with 24 percent in 2012. Forty-four percent said they don’t know if charter schools can charge tuition or not, compared to 44 percent in 2012.

What’s more …

The survey also asked respondents if they knew if there was a charter school in their local district. More than one-quarter – 28 percent – said they didn’t know.

In a deeper dive, a Harvard research fellow working with EdNext checked the responses against data on charter school locations. He found that many more people said they either “think” or “know” there is a charter school in their district than is in fact the case. Only 40 percent of those who say they “know” there’s a charter school in their district are correct.

Meanwhile, respondents were somewhat more likely to approve of charters if one or more is present in their district. The survey showed that 53 percent of respondents living in districts with charter schools favor them, with only 35 opposing them, compared to a margin of 47 percent support to 40 percent opposition among those living in districts without charter schools.