Jackson, MS—On October 7, 2019, the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board and Mississippi First released a new report titled Public Perception of Charter Schools in Mississippi. Through the Charter School Program (CSP) federal grant, Mississippi First was contracted by the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board to conduct a parent satisfaction survey in the spring of 2019. Participants in Jackson and Clarksdale were randomly drawn from one of two parent pools: charter parents and non-charter parents. The charter parent pool consisted of all parents with children enrolled in charter schools in 2018-2019. The non-charter parent pool included parents with children who were eligible but not attending a charter that year.

“This new survey data cuts through the noise to tell us that parents in charter school communities support charter schools by big majorities, even if their children don’t go to a charter school,” said Rachel Canter, Executive Director of Mississippi First. “The findings further provide rich information to policymakers and the public about parent familiarity, knowledge, opinion, and satisfaction with charter schools,” added Canter.

“The results of this annual survey clearly speak to the work of the Authorizer Board as it seeks to ensure high quality public charter schools are operating in Mississippi, said Dr. Karmacharya, Executive Director of MCSAB.  “Our schools are to be commended not only for the quality education they are providing for our children, but also for their efforts to inform the public about the value our public charter schools bring to the communities in which they operate.” “With charter school parents overwhelmingly supportive of our schools, we remain committed to increasing awareness and providing alternatives for families as we pursue excellence through options.”

Report highlights include the following:

  • Parents in communities with charter schools are more likely to report familiarity with charter schools and be able to accurately identify them as public schools.
  • Parents most value their and their friends’ personal experience with charter schools and information directly from charter schools.
  • A large majority of parents in Mississippi charter school communities, regardless of whether their child attends a charter school, support charter schools and feel that charter schools have affected their community positively.
  • Mississippi charter school parents are extremely satisfied with their child’s school.

“One of the clearest take-aways from the report is that charter school parents are overwhelmingly satisfied with their child’s school. 97.7% of surveyed charter school parents would recommend their child’s school to other families,” stated Canter.

Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools get their name from the contract–or charter–that the school signs with the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board, the state agency that is allowed to create charter schools. The charter describes the rights and responsibilities of the school and binds the school to goals for its academic, financial, and organizational performance. Charter schools must meet these goals to continue to operate and must have their charters renewed at least every five years. In exchange for that accountability, the schools receive flexibility to innovate in areas like curriculum or schedules. Today, there are six charter schools in Mississippi: five are located in Jackson, Mississippi, and one is located in Clarksdale, Mississippi. A seventh school was recently approved to open in Greenwood, Mississippi, in 2020-2021.

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