A number of interesting polls and research studies about charter schools have come out in recent months. Every one of them has shown that public support for charters is still strong, and that charters continue to lead the way when it comes to academic achievement.
I found one poll, though, to be especially fascinating. Researchers at the University of Chicago, working for GenNext, polled the group we know as “millennials” – adults ages 18-34 – asking their opinion on a variety of education-related issues. Among the questions, millennials were asked whether they support or oppose charter schools.
The results were no surprise: Millennials love charter schools. Across every racial subgroup, support was extremely strong for charters.
Message for Politicians
Here’s what’s particularly fascinating, though – and this is a fact that every politician in Michigan needs to know. Of all the millennials, support for charter schools is strongest among minorities.
The poll showed that 55% of whites support charter schools. The number grew to 58% among Latinos, 61% among Asian Americans and a whopping 65% among African Americans. Two points on this. First, it illustrates again just how out of touch the NAACP was last year with its call for a moratorium on charter schools. As so many people have pointed out, by pandering to its funders, the NAACP is sadly out of step with the people they’re supposed to represent.
And second, it underscores what a stupid political move it is for candidates to oppose charter schools. Politicians talk all the time about wanting to appeal to younger voters – particularly minority voters – and to do what’s necessary to get them to the polls. And then they turn around and support policies that millennials overwhelmingly reject.
The Lesson in Michigan
In our state, several candidates for governor in 2018 are making their opposition to charter schools the central theme of their education policy. (All in an effort to appease their teachers’ union backers.) One candidate has even gone so far as to say he’d close all charter schools.
If you want to keep young people away from the polls – and if you want to lose an election big-time – this is the way to do it. Every candidate for governor should look closely at this poll before uttering another dumb word about charter schools.
Why do millennials support charters?
Writing in the National Review, Tommy Schultz – a millennial himself – did an excellent job of explaining why his generation loves charter schools.
“For the Millennial generation, having many educational options make sense. We grew up with abundant options across most aspects of our lives … For the Millennial generation, having many educational options make sense. We also deeply distrust institutions … Why would we continue to trust a bulky, monolithic K–12 system that hasn’t been truly reformed in generations and produces meager results on international tests?”
So true. Here’s hoping the politicians are listening.