Polling reveals efforts to impose public charter school moratorium run contrary to overwhelming voter sentiment
A poll commissioned by DelawareCAN of 423 New Castle County registered voters conducted April 1-3, 2022 showed that a House Education Committee vote advancing a measure to stop public charter school growth in New Castle County is wildly out-of-step with public sentiment.
The poll measured voter opinion on public education, public charter schools and the proposed moratorium on new public charter schools in the county. By wide margins, voters support charter schools, oppose a moratorium and want to see more growth in the number of charter schools. Most noteworthy, 80% of families with school-aged children said having access to school options is important to them even if they are happy with their current school. The poll was executed by Dynata, a US-based market research company with polling experience at local, state, national and international levels.
- School Satisfaction: 28% of respondents were satisfied with the quality of public education in New Castle County while 43% expressed that they were unsatisfied.
- Educational Options: When asked if they supported or opposed the right of families to choose the public school best for them, 75% supported this statement (50% strongly) and 11% were in opposition (6% strongly).
- Charter Schools: 52% had a favorable view of public charter schools while 18% had an unfavorable view.
- Moratorium Legislation: 47% opposed efforts to halt the growth of charter schools in the county (32% strongly) while 28% supported it (12% strongly) and 25% had no opinion.
- Negative Impact on Children: Approaching the moratorium from another perspective, 63% felt that limiting educational options, even for a short time, would have a negative impact on children (42% strongly) while 19% felt that it would not (8% strongly).
- Growth: In fact, instead of limiting charter school growth, 54% (29% strongly) of respondents supported expanding slots in high-performing public charter schools. 18% (10% strongly) were opposed.
Results were fairly consistent between white and Black voters. However, Black voters were more supportive of the general concept of public school options, with 80% responding affirmatively, 5 points higher than the overall poll.
In the poll, respondents were asked to identify as likely Democratic (47%), likely Republican (35%) or undecided (12%) voters in upcoming elections. Approximately 6% said neither party.
- Democratic voters indicated that they supported the right of families to choose their public school by a margin of 67% in support to 16% opposed. Undecided voters supported the right of families to choose their public school by a margin of 84% in support to 6% opposed.
- Democrats were mixed on the idea of a moratorium with 39% in support and 33% opposed, while undecided voters were largely opposed with 18% in support and 51% opposed.
- Both Democrats and undecided voters supported the idea of increasing the availability of seats in charter schools over time with 50% of Democrats in support and 20% opposed. Undecideds were 49% in support of charter growth with 18% opposed.
Among the people closest to the school system–families with school-aged children–support of options and opposition to the moratorium increased to 80% (5 points higher) and 55% (8 points higher), respectively.
“Elected officials need to pay heed to these numbers. This is not a Republican or Democratic trend,” explained DelawareCAN Executive Director Britney Mumford. “This isn’t only in Delaware. Support for a more diverse and open system of public education is spreading quickly around the country, particularly among families. They want more options for their children, not fewer.
“Halting public charter schools only succeeds in taking the heat off school districts like Christiana where 29% of the 25,039 statewide public school transfer requests are coming from,” continued Mumford. “We have great traditional public schools and public charter schools in Delaware. We have traditional public schools that need to do better and we have public charter schools that need to improve. Taking the pressure off poorly performing schools of any kind where families are choosing to leave is not the answer and will only serve to frustrate parents.”
 This poll was completed over the phone to 200 respondents and via sms messaging to 223 respondents all residing in New Castle County, Delaware. The poll was conducted between April 1 and3, 2022 and there was a margin of error of 5%.
Addendum: Poll Questions
Are you currently satisfied or unsatisfied with the quality of public education in New Castle County?
|1 – Very satisfied||35 (8.27 %)|
|2 – Somewhat satisfied||83 (19.62 %)|
|3 – Unsure/Don’t know||123 (29.08 %)|
|4 – Somewhat unsatisfied||82 (19.39 %)|
|5 – Very unsatisfied||100 (23.64 %)|
Do you support or oppose the right of families to choose the public school that works best for their children?
|1 – Strongly support||213 (50.35 %)|
|2 – Somewhat support||104 (24.59 %)|
|3 – Unsure/Don’t know||56 (13.24 %)|
|4 – Somewhat oppose||26 (6.15 %)|
|5 – Strongly oppose||24 (5.67 %)|
Do you have a favorable or unfavorable impression of public charter schools?
|1 – Strongly favorable||99 (23.40 %)|
|2 – Somewhat favorable||120 (28.37 %)|
|3 – Unsure/Don’t know||127 (30.02 %)|
|4 – Somewhat unfavorable||48 (11.35 %)|
|5 – Strongly unfavorable||29 (6.86 %)|
The legislature is considering limiting the public educational options in New Castle County by halting the growth of charter schools. Do you support or oppose this proposal?
|1 – Strongly support||52 (12.29 %)|
|2 – Somewhat support||66 (15.60 %)|
|3 – Unsure/Don’t know||105 (24.82 %)|
|4 – Somewhat oppose||64 (15.13 %)|
|5 – Strongly oppose||136 (32.15 %)|
Do you support expanding the number of slots in high performing charter schools in New Castle County?
|1 – Strongly support||122 (28.84 %)|
|2 – Somewhat support||108 (25.53 %)|
|3 – Unsure/Don’t know||117 (27.66 %)|
|4 – Somewhat oppose||34 (8.04 %)|
|5 – Strongly oppose||42 (9.93 %)|
Do you agree or disagree with this statement: Even if I do not intend to change schools, knowing that I have another school option is important to me (FAMILIES WITH SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN ONLY)
|1 – Strongly agree||55 (55.00 %)|
|2 – Somewhat agree||25 (25.00 %)|
|3 – Unsure/Don’t know||13 (13.00 %)|
|4 – Somewhat disagree||4 (4.00 %)|
|5 – Strongly disagree||3 (3.00 %)|
Do you agree or disagree with this statement: Limiting educational options in New Castle county, even for a short period of time, would have a negative effect on children.
|1 – Strongly agree||176 (41.61 %)|
|2 – Somewhat agree||89 (21.04 %)|
|3 – Unsure/Don’t know||77 (18.20 %)|
|4 – Somewhat disagree||48 (11.35 %)|
|5 – Strongly disagree||33 (7.80 %)|