A new study by Tom Julius, core faculty member in the Department of Education at Antioch University New England (AUNE), finds that the vast majority of parents who send their children to charter schools in New Hampshire are pleased with the experience. They cite academics, quality of teaching, school culture and having their children’s needs met.
This is the first study that looks at the attitudes and experiences of charter school parents.
According to Julius’s report, New Hampshire Charter Schools Parent Study 2011, charter school parents are older, more educated and earn more money than most adults in the state. They are more likely to transport their children to school and to volunteer for the school. Most chose a charter school because they weren’t happy with their child’s previous school. The school’s philosophy and reputation were also factors. Although most knew little about the charter school system, they were willing to take the plunge and enroll their children in a charter school. But some parents said they are dissatisfied with the lack of extra-curricular activities, such as sports, at their charter schools. They also criticized inadequate state funding of charter schools.
Julius makes some recommendations in his report, such as:
- Schools should develop mid-level administrative positions.
- More publicity about charter schools would be useful. The New Hampshire Public Charter School Association should inform parents about state-wide charter school issues.
- Parents should be utilized more broadly in fundraising and lobbying for their schools.
“New Hampshire charter schools have succeeded despite the challenges of inadequate funding and a general population that is unfamiliar with charters,” Julius concluded in his report. “New Hampshire charter schools are characterized by parents and educators, seeking creative ways to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student population. This study points to parents, in particular, as a catalyst that can make this happen.”
The first two charter schools in New Hampshire opened in 2004. In 2010-2012 New Hampshire had ten charter schools; nine of them participated in Julius’s study. He interviewed parents last spring.
In addition to being an AUNE faculty member, Julius is a founding board member and parent at the Surry Village Charter School in Surry, New Hampshire.
Read a copy of the study