Harris Poll: Education political driver for parents ahead of midterm elections

U.S. News & World Report has ranked Somerset Academy Elementary School, a charter school in Miami, the No. 3 elementary school in the nation based on student performance on state tests and how well students are prepared for high school.

Editor’s note: This article appeared on the74million.org.

A survey of more than 5,000 parents released today found education ranks high among their concerns ahead of the critical midterm elections — and that 82% would vote for someone outside their party if the candidate’s education agenda matched their own.

The survey was conducted electronically in May by The Harris Poll on behalf of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. It was a follow-up to the Alliance’s own 2021 enrollment study, which noted charter schools’ growth during the pandemic. While traditional public schools lost more than 1.2 million students during the pandemic, charters gained nearly 240,000 children during the 2020-21 school year: Their enrollment grew 7%, the largest increase in half a decade.

The Alliance commissioned Harris to do subsequent polling, it said, to gain deeper insights into the parental “behaviors, experiences, preferences and attitudes” that were fueling this trend. Debbie Veney, senior vice president of communications and marketing, told The 74 last week that one result, in particular, surprised her.

“I was blown away by the number of people who said they were willing to vote outside their political party for someone having the same position on education they do,” Veney said.

The polling doesn’t shed light on what positions parents would like candidates to hold.

But the pandemic has caused substantial shifts in how parents view education, making them more assertive about their own decision-making power in their children’s schooling. This has led to a rise in conservative parent groups and an increased interest in choice and alternative school models.

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