Accountability has been one of the major issues in the charter schools debate, since charter schools are overseen by the state and not by individual school districts. Just over half (51 percent) of those familiar with charter schools say that better measures are needed to hold these schools accountable for the education they provide, while 28 percent say that appropriate measures are already in place. Another 21% have no opinion. This is comparable to New Jersey opinion about accountability for public schools in general.
Six-in-ten (63 percent) Garden State residents say their own local schools need more accountability – which is up from 55 percent in a 2006 poll – compared to just 29 percent who say adequate oversight is already in place – which is down from 39 percent five years ago. Among those who are familiar with charter schools, 33 percent say both their local public schools and charter schools need more accountability, 17 percent say public school oversight is adequate but charters need more accountability, 19 percent say charter oversight is adequate but public schools need more accountability, and 7 percent think both public and charter schools have adequate accountability.
Overall, ratings of the state’s education system have remained stable over the past 15 years, with a majority rating New Jersey’s public schools as either excellent (13 percent) or good (43 percent). Another 31 percent rate them as only fair and 10 percent say they are poor.
Some supporters of these education reforms say they will help lessen disparities in student performance based on wealth and race. The public is not particularly convinced this would happen. While 71 percent of New Jerseyans agree that it is very important to close the achievement gap between white and minority students, just 25 percent feel that the proposed reforms in New Jersey would accomplish that. Another 11 percent feel that they would actually widen the achievement gap and 41 percent say these reforms would have no impact.
The poll was conducted by telephone with 802 New Jersey adults from Aug. 3 to 8. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
— TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM