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Jul 23, 2013

Parents of charter school students rate the sector 8.1 on a scale of 10

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Seventy-one percent of Newark, N.J., residents support expanding the city’s charter school sector, according to a survey released today by the Newark Charter School Fund (NCSF), a nonprofit organization that makes grants to support the quality growth and sustainability of Newark public charter schools.

“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,” said Mashea Ashton, CEO of the Newark Charter School Fund. “When parents understand what charter schools are and how charters are equipped to benefit all Newark students, they support expanding options.”

Parents whose children attend charter schools rated the sector very highly at 8.1 out of 10. Newark residents as a whole rated charter schools at 6 on a scale of 10 points. This rating rose to 6.9 when residents were told that charter schools are free public schools that operate independently of the local school district; are more accountable for improving student achievement and partnerships among parents, teachers and students; and give parents more options for free public schools. 

The survey polled 500 Newark residents – 100 each from the North, South, East, West and Central Wards – between April 18 and April 23, 2013. The survey was conducted by the Wood-Ridge, N.J.-based Gallowglass Group. 

Most respondents in favor of expanding the charter school sector believe charters offer students a better education overall (41.6 percent). Other reasons for supporting more charter schools included more involvement by all stakeholders (18.7 percent), better teacher/staff care (6.5 percent) and newer schools (5.3 percent). Of the respondents who opposed expanding the charter sector, most (36 percent) said they believed district public schools were better.

“While the survey showed overwhelming support for charter schools among parents who understand what charter schools are, it also illustrated that there is work to be done to educate residents about all of their public school options,” Ashton said. “We look forward to continuing to partner with district leaders to engage parents in the public school system and ensure that all Newark kids have access to a high-quality school.”

Nearly half of those polled incorrectly characterized charter schools as private schools using public funding, while only 35 percent correctly characterized charters as public schools using public funding and 16 percent didn’t know.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • 43 percent of respondents reported having children or grandchildren who attend elementary, middle or high school in Newark.
  • 59.4 percent of respondents reported being aware of a charter school in their neighborhood.
  • Respondents rated their knowledge of district public schools 5.44 out of 10, and their knowledge of charter schools 4.6 out of 10. 

About Newark Charter School Fund

Established in April of 2008, the Newark Charter School Fund (NCSF) works to develop and support high quality charter schools in Newark, and is dedicated to create a thriving public school system that prepares all Newark public school students for college and career. NCSF fulfills its mission by advocating for high‐impact education policy changes, making grants to improve the effectiveness of local charter schools, and by providing support for new startup charter schools. With a waiting list for charter schools in Newark of over 10,000 students, NCSF is embarking on the next phase of its development with the goal of expanding the number and quality of charter school seats, while promoting a strong partnership between charter and district schools.  

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Rianna Felder

Newark Skyline