Most Newark Residents Want More Charter Schools, Poll Reveals
Survey also found confusion among residents about what a charter school is.
By Paul Milo
Nearly three-fourths of city residents responding to an April poll support expanding the city’s network of public charter schools, the nonprofit Newark Charter Schools Fund announced recently.
Respondents, however, only rated the alternatives to the district’s schools as “fair," giving the approximately two dozen charter schools a quality rating of 6.9 on a 1 to 10 scale. That rating, however, was still higher than for Newark’s traditional public schools, and was even higher among respondents whose children attend charters. That group rated Newark's charter schools 8.1 out of 10.
“This survey illustrates what we have seen firsthand for some time: that parents like having more high-quality public school choices for their children’s education,” Mashea Ashton, CEO of the Newark Charter School Fund, said in a statement. “When parents understand what charter schools are and how charters are equipped to benefit all Newark students, they support expanding options.”
The poll, conducted between April 18 and April 23 by theGallowglass Group of Wood-Ridge and commissioned by the Newark Charter School Fund, queried 500 residents split evenly among the city’s five wards. Respondents were selected from among registered voters who took part in at least two of the last four general elections.
Nearly half of respondents, 43 percent, had children or grandchildren in a Newark public school. Seventy-one percent of respondents said they supported an expansion of the charter school system.
Along with broad support for charter schools, the survey also found that:
Support for charters was weakest in the East Ward, where there are only private and district public schools
Several respondents were confused about the nature of charter schools, often believing them to be private schools receiving public funding. Charter schools are actually a part of the city’s public school system, although each operates independently of the administration that oversees the city’s traditional district public schools
The most common reason respondents gave for supporting charters was the quality of education they offered; 42 percent of respondents answered in this fashion
Many respondents were skeptical of the idea of a charter and a traditional public school sharing the same facilities
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