The American public is fairly split on charter school autonomy, according to a new poll from PDK International.
About 48 percent of Americans say public charter schools should have to meet the same standards as traditional public schools. About 46 percent say charter schools should get to set their own educational standards.
The poll found that those who view traditional public schools negatively are more likely to say charter schools should set their own standards.
"Majorities of those giving their local public schools a C or lower favor allowing charter schools to set their own standards, while majorities of those giving them an A or B prefer that charter schools meet the same standards," the poll report said. "Consistent with this, those who see public school standards as too low are more willing to grant greater charter school autonomy."
A gap between Republicans and Democrats emerged on the issue, with 58 percent of Democrats saying charters shouldn't get to set their own standards and 57 percent of Republicans saying they should.
Younger Americans were more likely than seniors to support charters setting their own standards.
The full wording of the poll's question on charter autonomy and educational standards was, "Charter schools are public schools that are run without many of the state regulations placed on other public schools. Do you think it's better for charter schools to meet the same educational standards as other public schools or to set their own educational standards?"
Charter schools are publicly funded and do not charge tuition fees. Compared to traditional public schools, charters have more independence and flexibility in their operations and curricula, which is why many families find them desirable. They are open to all students, but due to demand must often use a lottery system to allocate spaces.
Jason Russell is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.