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Debaters Take Note: Poll Shows Atlanta Voters of Color Support Public School Choice

November 21, 2019 GMT

NEW YORK, Nov. 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- A new poll released today by Education Reform Now Advocacy and Public Policy Polling shows strong support for public school choice among African American voters in Atlanta, Georgia—the site of tonight’s fifth Democratic Presidential debate.

The poll found that, among African American voters surveyed:

  • 74% agree more with President Obama’s vision for education, whose “education policies would promote innovation and choice in public schools and raise standards for every student,” than with his Democratic opponents who said his agenda would weaken public schools (9%).
  • 83% support providing more choice within the public school system, including public charter schools; only 10% would be opposed. A majority (63%) of respondents were opposed to the idea of limiting students to only the school based on where the reside.
  • Of those who had an opinion on Atlanta’s public charter schools, nearly 3 in 4 hold a favorable opinion.
  • Less than 40% would support a moratorium on public charter schools—similar to the ones proposed by Senators and Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

“Public charter schools have long existed because low-income parents, particularly parents of color, demanded better educational options for their children,” said Shavar Jeffries, president of Democrats for Education Reform. “While there’s been a troubling trend of public charter school bashing, the reality on the ground does not match the rhetoric.”

Today’s polling results in Atlanta mirror sentiment found in a recent national poll conducted by Education Reform Now Advocacy and Benenson Strategy Group, showing 89% of Black Democratic primary voters would support more choice within the public school system.

In 2019, Atlanta charter schools enrolled 8,009 students, comprising 16% of public-school students in Atlanta Public Schools. The 2019 National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), released late last month, revealed that African American charter school students in Atlanta significantly outperformed black traditional school students, with African American fourth-grade charter school students scoring 19 points higher in math and 27 points higher in reading. The city’s eighth-grade African American charter school students outperformed their traditional peers by 20 points in both math and reading.

11 of Atlanta’s 18 charter schools were also named “beating the odds” schools for their students—a measurement that compares the performance of similar schools across the state— according to the Georgia Department of Education’s 2018 Charter School Annual Report.

“We agree that for-profit charters should be banned and that public charter schools should be held to high standards, but limiting high-quality options that have been proven to increase equity within the public school system is the wrong plan for Democrats,” said Jeffries.

The poll was conducted on Nov. 19, 2019, and surveyed 329 African American voters in Atlanta, Georgia.

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SOURCE Education Reform Now