by Georgia Charter Schools Association
By Jamie Lord
The Georgia legislature convenes on Monday. Governor Deal begins his second term. A slate of newly elected House and Senate members from both parties will be sworn in. Incumbents return from the off-session hiatus ready to do business.
As lawmakers gavel in and prepare to do the people’s business, there’s one issue they might do well to consider: public charter schools. A new poll suggests the way to voters’ hearts is through charter schools.
Georgians support public charter schools by a greater than two-to-one margin, 66% to 24%. Once voters are reminded that charter schools are independent Georgia public schools that are free to be more innovative and are held accountable for improved student achievement, support jumps to 72% overall.
Dig a little into the crosstabs and the numbers get even more interesting. Women support charter schools 71%. Men support charters 74%. White voters? 70% in favor. There is even more support among African American voters with 74% favoring public charter schools. For voters with school-aged kids, support is almost 80% while voters who don’t have kids in school still support charter schools 70%/20%.
The poll went beyond asking about general support or opposition for charter schools and asked voters if they believed “Students in public charter schools should receive the same amount of money for their education as they would have received in their traditional district school?” Again, 70% of voters in Georgia said “yes.”
If I were an elected official (mercifully, for everyone, I have no such desire), I’d be looking for an issue that garners 70% or more support from every key demographic: men, women, White, Black, younger, older.
I don’t need your vote. I support independent, self-governing and highly accountable public charter schools because every student in Georgia deserves an effective education that prepares them for life. For many students, public charter schools are their lifeline to academic and lifelong success. For far too many other students, hope has been deferred another year, waiting for another lottery.
The great news in this week’s poll is that what is good for Georgia’s students happens to also be political gold.
While legislators, even those within the same party, often disagree, there is one thing they almost unanimously desire: reelection. With that in mind, legislators would be wise to take a long, favorable look at public charter schools this legislative session.
Jamie Lord is a government affairs consultant in Georgia. She lives in downtown Atlanta, where she observes daily a lack of educational equality, which makes her passionate about working to give kids more options.
The views and opinions expressed on CharterConfidential are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency.