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Public Support for Charter Schools Increases Across Texas

10.20.11
Public Support for Charter Schools Increases Across Texas

Both student demand and public support are now at peak levels statewide

Austin, Texas – Public opinion polling data suggests Texans hold a more favorable opinion of charter schools following an active legislative session. Charter schools’ favorable image increased by 12 points to 57% statewide from late August 2010 to late August 2011.

The survey, done by WPA Opinion Research on behalf of the Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA), shows strong support for creating more public charter schools and ensuring they receive the same funding as other traditional neighborhood schools. The first poll was conducted in August of 2010 with 500 likely voters to initially gauge public support before the 82nd legislative session throughout Central Texas, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and the Rio Grande Valley regions. The second survey was conducted in August 2011 using identical survey size and target region to gauge impact throughout a full year of public outreach and grassroots advocacy.

Survey results can be found here, highlights include:

57% have a favorable impression of charter schools – a gain of 12 points in 12 months.
59% want the state cap on charter schools lifted so there is more choice in public schools.
53% believe charters should receive the same per pupil funding as other public school students.
62% think charter schools offer quality education – up 7 points since last year.
53% say charter schools share the same goal as other public schools, an 11 point gain.

TCSA Executive Director David Dunn said, “The survey results are encouraging, after years of steady education reform efforts in Texas. This is a remarkable time in the charter school movement here in Texas – both student demand and public support for charter schools are now at their highest statewide levels since they were created in 1995 by the Texas legislature. We also see more than ever before, Independent School Districts in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and the Rio Grande Valley are collaborating with public charter schools to improve and innovate.”

Since last year, charter schools’ biggest favorable image rating gains have come in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston regions. When asked how they heard about charter schools, news coverage was the most likely voter exposure to charter schools. Word of mouth and television ads were the second most common information sources.

During the 82nd legislative session, TCSA initiated a grassroots advocacy campaign and increased public outreach to highlight the success of charter schools across Texas. Texas launched the largest charter parent advocacy network and hosted charter parent rallies with over 2800 total attendees at two rallies, and incorporated a total of 3,000 parent advocates into a growing action network.

Although efforts to lift the state cap on charter schools and pursue equitable funding remain, TCSA helped passed legislation this summer after nearly a decade of trying to access facilities funding similar to traditional public schools, that extended the state’s Permanent School Fund (PSF) bond guarantee to financially sound charter schools to help them construct and renovate public school buildings.