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The 21st Century Charter Schools Initiative

The 21st Century Charter Schools Initiative

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Public Opinion Historically, Americans have been hesitant to the idea of Charter schools, often with more opposition than support. There is also widespread sentiment that states should hold Charters accountable, with 80% thinking so in 2005. However, openness to Charter schools has been increasing especially among minority communities who have shifted opinions higher than the national average. A 2011 Phi Delta Kappa International-Gallup Poll reported that public support for charter schools stood at a "decade-high" of 70%. Charter schools provide an alternative for educators, families and communities who are dissatisfied with educational quality and school district bureaucracies at non-charter schools. In early 2008, the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, a pro-charter organization, conducted two polls in primarily conservative states Idaho and Nevada where they asked parents about their preferences concerning education. In Idaho, only 12% of respondents said that their regular public school was their top choice for the children's school. Most preferred private schools over other options. In 2008, Polls conducted in the conservative states Georgia and Wyoming found similar results. The charter approach uses market principles from the private sector, including accountability and consumer choice, to offer new public sector options that remain nonsectarian and nonexclusive. Many people, such as former President Bill Clinton, see charter schools, with their emphasis on autonomy and accountability, as a workable political compromise and an alternative to vouchers. Others, such as former President George W. Bush, see charter schools as a way to improve schools without antagonizing the teachers' union. Bush made charter Page 19 of 43

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