Statewide Poll Shows Strong Support for Public Charter Schools

Staff Report

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

Georgia voters overwhelmingly support public charter schools. Two-thirds, 67%, of likely voters participating in a Cygnal public opinion poll expressed favorable views of public charter schools. The survey of 640 likely voters also found that a sizeable percentage of parents who live in metro Atlanta (72%) and (75%) in South and East Georgia would send their children to a public charter school if one was available in their community.

Survey respondents also expressed that they want additional public school options, full funding for existing charter school grants, and they are less likely to vote for a candidate that would maintain status quo funding for school districts only offering virtual learning and taxpayer funding for education in Georgia should follow the child. The advanced multi-mode survey of Republican, Democratic, Independent and undecided voters was conducted between Aug. 22-Aug. 24, 2020.
“These findings support what we have long known to be true in Georgia,” said Tony Roberts, President and CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association. “For years, we have seen strong demand by families seeking to enroll their children in a Georgia public charter school. In 2012, a supermajority of Georgia voters backed an amendment to reestablish a state authorizer for charter schools in Georgia’s constitution. Families in our state continue to believe that public charter schools put the needs of students first and positively contribute to Georgia’s overall public school system.”

Georgia voters of all races and political affiliations approve of public charter schools
The public opinion poll found that Georgia voters of all racial demographics support public charter schools. 83% Asian voters, 83% of Latino voters, 67% of White voters and 65% of Black voters expressed a favorable opinion of charter schools. According to survey results, 73% of Independents, 68% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats say they support public charter schools.
More than half of Georgia's parents want more free public-school options. 
52% of Georgia parents who were surveyed say they want additional free public school options. The creation of more public school options was especially important to low and middle-income Georgians. 54% of respondents who made less than $50,000 annually and 58% making between $50,000-$90,000 say more free public school options are needed. Both Democratic (55%) and Republican (51%) voters agreed that more public school choices are necessary. Only 20% of Georgia parents say they are not in favor of additional public school options for students.
Georgia voters support fully funding existing charter School Grants
56% of voters support the state fully funding the charter school grants it has already created. This includes 50% of teacher households and 75% of parents. It is especially popular with 18-34-year-olds, Republicans, Independents, low-income voters, college-educated voters, and those living in Metro Atlanta. The grants are opposed by just 26% of voters.
Georgians want funding reductions for districts that only offer distance learning 
More than half of Georgia voters (52%) who were surveyed say they are less likely to support a state lawmaker who votes to continue funding school districts at the same level if they’re not offering full-time in-person learning. Only 27% percent of voters were more likely to support a state legislator who continues for school districts that have no in-person learning options for students. This survey was conducted as many Georgia families have students participating in distance and hybrid learning due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Taxpayer money should follow the child
64% of Georgia voters believe that the money should follow the student and those funds do not belong solely to the district. They want children to be able to use the state funds that are allocated for their education in the school that best fits their needs whether it be public, private, magnet, charter, virtual, or homeschool (70% agree and 22% disagree). Additionally, respondents say they are more likely to support a legislative candidate who supports school choice (53%). These polling results come as a number of Georgia families examine different educational options for their children as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methodology: The survey was conducted Aug. 22-24, 2020, with 640 likely general election voters. It has a margin of error of ±3.87%. A group of known voters who were likely to vote in the 2020 General Election were randomly selected and interviewed via live agents calling cell phones and landlines, and voters received invitations to participate in the survey via SMS and email with a secure link tied to their voter record. The survey was weighted to a likely general election universe.