According to our new public opinion poll, 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. Our poll was conducted by Change Research.
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% to 25%), 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.
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…