A new survey that measures what some Mississippi parents know about charter schools shows mixed results.
A survey by the non-profit Mississippi First found 37 percent of parents whose child attends a charter school thinks it's a private institution. Forty-four percent of parents whose children attend traditional public schools also think they're private. Charter schools are funded with taxpayer dollars. The survey is required as part of a charter school program grant. Lisa Karmacharya is with the state's charter school authorizer board.
"This is an on-going report. Again part of the CSP grant that will help to influence are decision making, our strategic planning, our communication strategies and our efforts to improve quality charter schools throughout the state," said Karmacharya
Researchers surveyed parents in Jackson and Clarksdale where charter schools are located. Fifty-one percent of parents with kids in traditional public schools support having charter schools in their community. Parents with kids in charter schools support them as well. Joanne Mickens is with Parent's for Public Schools. She's concerned about the perception of traditional public schools. The survey found well over 50 percent of parents across the board believe only some children have access to high quality schools.
"Well our hope is that more charter schools don't come online. I think that we will all be served better if we put time and effort into improving the quality and perception of schools where the most children attend," said Mickens.
More than 88 percent of parents with children in charter schools gave them an A or B. There are six charter schools operating; five in Jackson and one in Clarksdale. Another school has been approved in Greenwood. Mississippi State University partnered with Mississippi First in conducting the survey.