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Poll Shows North Carolinians Want More School Options, Strong Charter School Law

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
July 11, 2011

The Center for Education Reform (CER) released a new poll today showing North Carolina voters strongly support having more school options and the creation of new charter schools in the state.  The poll also revealed strong support for multiple authorizers and equitable funding for charter schools, which are key components in ensuring the growth of high-quality charter schools.

The poll, commissioned by CER and conducted by Majority Opinion Research, revealed that 70 percent of surveyed North Carolinians support the creation of new charter schools and the opportunity to choose among a wide variety of schools. These concepts are strongly supported across all demographics including political affiliation.  Support for charter schools was strongest among African Americans (85 percent), women (82 percent), and North Carolinians with school-aged children (81 percent).

The poll also found that 50 percent of those surveyed preferred “allowing the parent to choose from a number of public schools” over “assigning children to one public school based solely on where they live.”  Support was strongest among African Americans (68 percent), women (56 percent), and Independent voters (61 percent).

“These results demonstrate a demand for more effective ways to educate the state’s children,” said CER President Jeanne Allen.  “People want parents to have the power to choose a school for their child based on their needs not their zip code.  And they want those parents to have a plethora of charter schools to choose from.”

Research shows that states with multiple authorizers have more and higher-quality charter schools.  These 17 states allow independent but publicly accountable entities such as mayors, universities, and independent commissions to approve and oversee public charter schools.  The poll found that the North Carolinians surveyed understood this concept and support it.   Currently in North Carolina, only the State Board of Education, after local board’s approval, may authorize charter schools.   The law does explicitly permit the University of North Carolina (UNC) to also authorize charters, but it has not done so to date.   When asked specifically whether they supported UNC as an authorizer, 48 percent of respondents were in favor, versus 28 percent opposed.

The poll also found that 65 percent surveyed agreed that charters should be funded the same as all other public schools. In North Carolina, charter schools currently receive only 90 percent of the funding that other public schools receive.

“Charter schools ARE public schools and all public school students, regardless of whether they attend a traditional public school or choose a charter school, deserve to be funded equally,” said Allen. “If educational attainment is the true purpose, then we need to strengthen and expand the opportunities North Carolina’s families have to seek out and choose the school that meets their children’s specific needs.”

The Center for Education Reform partnered with Majority Opinion Research – a leading Atlanta research organization – to conduct a random statewide telephone survey of 528 registered voters between June 20 and June 21, 2012.  The margin of error for the North Carolina survey is +/- 4.2 percent. To see more information about the poll click here.