Strong Support for School Choice among Chicago Parents

Strong Support for School Choice among Chicago Parents

According to a Renaissance Schools Fund and Richard Day Research poll, Chicago's charter school parents report overwhelming satisfaction with the quality of their children's education.

by Ashley Muchow

A Renaissance Schools Fund study was released today showing that parents of Chicago charter public school students believe the quality of education their children receive trumps that received in traditional Chicago public schools (CPS).

The results of the poll conducted by Richard Day Research show that parents with children attending Chicago charter public schools are very likely to recommend their child’s school and note improvement in the quality of their child’s education. Meanwhile, parents with children in traditional Chicago public schools seriously consider alternatives for their children and half would send their children to different schools if given the opportunity.

The 2011 poll of Chicago parents and residents revealed the following:

  • 61 percent of CPS parents have seriously
    considered an alternative for their child. Nearly half (49 percent) of CPS
    parents would send their child to a different school if given the
  • 66 percent of charter school parents are
    very satisfied with the quality of education their child receives; only 37 percent of CPS parents polled are very satisfied
    with the quality of their child’s CPS education.
  • 78 percent of charter school parents think their child’s education is improving; only 47 percent of CPS parents hold the same opinion of their child’s school.
  • 74 percent of charter school parents are very likely to recommend
    their child’s school; only 42 percent of CPS parents would do the same for their child’s school.
  • African-American parents voice the strongest support for school choice
    and charter schools. African-American residents want more choices (84
    percent), compared to Hispanic (72 percent) or white (56 percent)
  • 56 percent of CPS parents
    and 54 percent of Chicago residents agree that charter schools help
    public schools perform better.

The upshot? Chicago’s residents and parents agree — charter schools are benefiting our kids and are helping all public schools improve. But while parents with children in charter public schools endorse their children’s schools, CPS parents want more choice.

Today, the board of Chicago Public Schools is meeting to hear proposals for two new charter schools as well as four more campuses and additional enrollment for existing charter public schools in the city. Charter school supporters and critics are expected to attend the board meeting today, and both are hoping to influence what the board decides.

The charter community is ready to voice the importance of choice in the Chicago education system. But the Chicago Teachers Union is citing its own statistics: that 1 in 11 students left charter schools last year. We rebutted this claim quickly with our Education Fact Finder that presents the facts: charter schools retain students better than nearby public schools.

We can argue all day about the statistics that are used to fit each group’s agenda, but one thing is certain: there is no stronger indicator of school performance than the opinion
of the parents and students who are intimately impacted by the
schooling itself. More than 15,000 students on waiting lists to get into Chicago’s public charter schools.

Students and parents make the decision to send their kids to schools they perceive as better. When students and parents get to choose, the truth comes out. No union or approving school board can change the opinion of the individuals that are affected by a school’s success the most: the students in the classroom and the parents that raise them.

Celebrate National School Choice Week and support the right to choose in Illinois public schools.

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