This blog originally ran on the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools website.
One of the most interesting aspects of last fall’s ballot box victory for public charter schools in Georgia was the overwhelming support from African-American voters at the same time that too many of their political leaders were opposing the ballot measure. We are seeing a similar dynamic in Alabama and Kentucky, where a solid majority of voters support charters according to a recent survey released by the Black Alliance for Educational Options (link to our blog on this survey here) while their political leaders more often than not oppose them.
And now comes some interesting findings from Washington State, where voters enacted a public charter school law last fall via a ballot measure (I-1240). According to an analysis that we recently completed, voting precincts more populated with Hispanic, Native American, and African-American voters supported the measure by clear margins:
- Precincts more populated with Hispanics were 15% more supportive of I-1240. Hispanics represent 8.9% of voters in Washington State.
- Precincts more populated with Native Americans were 13% more supportive of I-1240. Native Americans represent 1.3% of voters in Washington State.
- Precincts more populated with African-Americans were 8% more supportive of I-1240. African-Americans represent 3.3% of voters in Washington State.
Given that Hispanic, Native American, and African-American students have been historically shortchanged by our public school system, it’s no surprise that these voters were most interested in having high-quality public school choices available to them via public charter schools. Let’s hope that the political leaders representing these precincts see these margins and decide to support public charter schools in line with the interests of their voters instead of opposing them to please more narrow special interests.
Whether they do or not, though, it’s now up to public charter schools that open in Washington State to deliver on their promise and deliver a high-quality public education to these students as they’ve done in so many other communities across the country.