Democratic President Barack Obama, who has been enthusing about charter schools lately, may want to take note of a new study. Drawing on data from Washington state, two researchers conclude that partisanship is the “strongest predictor” for whether voters back referenda to authorize charter schools, with solidly Republican areas considerably more likely to support the ballot measures.
At the same time, the economists see some evidence that dissatisfaction with the quality of local schools has led to greater backing for charters, and that a stronger union presence is associated with less support for voting to allow the independent public schools to operate.
The report was issued this month as an occasional paper by the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York City.
“While we recognize the need for caution in extrapolating from the Washington experience, we believe the models of school district and precinct voting behavior provide interesting insights into the factors that led some jurisdictions to support charter schools and others to reject them,” write Sean P. Corcoran, an assistant professor at New York University in New York City and Christiana Stoddard, an associate professor at Montana State University in Bozeman.
A version of this article appeared in the May 20, 2009 edition of Education Week