Public Advocacy: Polling Parents

By Nora Carr

Right now, by just about any measure, charter schools and other alternatives are winning the public relations battle in our country. The 2013 Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll on education indicates 68 percent of respondents favor charter schools and 67 percent support new charter schools opening in their communities.

While the research supporting the rapid rise of charter schools is mixed, at best, it is clear that this public perception and policy shift would not have been possible without a well-funded, 30-year campaign. This campaign has adapted its key messages and policy frames to suit the times and values of a majority of Americans.

Capitalism, privatization, and the introduction of market-based competition for students, staff, and resources are seen as representing America’s best hope for regaining U.S. economic prosperity and world dominance.

At the same time, to justify the introduction of market-based strategies, American public schools are consistently portrayed as in a constant state of crisis and failure. To combat this pervasive narrative, public school officials need to offer a compelling alternative -- one that speaks to the real concerns many U.S. adults now have about choice, opportunity, competitiveness, and economic well-being.

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