Opponents of charter schools may need to find a new approach

Feb 10, 2015

Credit Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Opponents of charter schools are failing to make effective arguments for their position against them, while proponents are creating a stronger consensus for them finds a study conducted by Michigan State University professors Sarah Reckhow and Matt Grossman, along with University of Rochester PhD student Benjamin Evans.

The study provided different information to separate groups of respondents in order to measure how effective arguments for and against the schools are. Participants were given the information that 80% of charter schools in Michigan employ non-unionized teachers, 80% are operated by for-profit companies or more than 80% are authorized by universities.

The study found that the information about non-unionization was effective in raising support for schools significantly, while the for-profit frame had little impact.

Reckhow had originally anticipated including information about the schools for-profit nature would reduce support. Liberals, who are generally against charter schools, were less supportive of them just in the control condition, indicating the information's smaller impact may have been due to participant’s prior knowledge of how the schools operate.

The study also found that people tend to support charter schools in urban and underperforming areas, but are more apprehensive about having them in their own communities.