May 7, 2015



Have a Better Conversation About Charter Schools


When talking about charter schools, it often feels like there's no such thing as common ground. 


Here in New York City, the topic has pitted our mayor against our governor, and we've watched as advocates from either side duke it out in the press. The Twitter feed for this week's #CharterSchoolsWeek also provides a glimpse into the adversarial rhetoric from both sides regarding the issue.


At the same time, public opinion on charter schools seems both unstable and inconsistent. This instability creates something of a vacuum where adversarial rhetoric thrives and polarization worsens.


To help reverse this downward spiral, this week Public Agenda and the Spencer Foundation released a set of materials we hope will help communities get beyond ideology and polarization so they can make the practical decisions they need to make to improve educational opportunities for all kids.

Charter Schools In Perspective is a nonpartisan effort designed to support a more informed, civil and productive dialogue about charter schools. The materials are all available online at Here's what you'll find:  
  • Have a question about charter schools and want to see if there's trustworthy research out there to answer it? You can turn to "Charter Schools In Perspective: A Guide to Research." In this thorough and accessibly-written analysis, we synthesize and summarize current research on charter schools, including academic research often out of reach behind paywalls. Topics include student achievement, finance, governance, innovation and public opinion.  
  • Local officials should check out "Ten Questions for Policymakers," a set of questions that will help them think through decisions about charter schools in their jurisdictions.
  • Local and national journalists can access questions and ideas for stories about charter schools in their regions and nationwide from "Ten Questions for Journalists."  
  • If you want to hold a dialogue in your community to explore options for school improvement, "Are Charter Schools a Good Way to Improve Education in Our Community?" helps communities hold civil, productive dialogue on doing so. The guide is also a great resource if you're interested in learning more about the benefits and trade-offs of different perspectives on charter schools and improving schools.

Public Agenda doesn't take positions on contemporary controversies about education, and neither does the Spencer Foundation. We believe that more informed, thoughtful deliberation about issues related to what kinds of schools communities should create is in the best interest of communities, parents and children.


Help us spread the word about Charter Schools In Perspective! Share the resource on social media with #InPerspective, or feel free to use the tweets below. If you're interested in learning more about how to use the materials in your community, contact us today 




Tweets You Can Use:


New nonideological resources on #charterschools, from @PublicAgenda & Spencer Foundation: #InPerspective


Have a better conversation about #charterschools: #InPerspective from @PublicAgenda & Spencer Foundation


Polarization on #charterschools makes practical solutions to school improvement difficult. Get beyond polarization:


Support a more productive dialogue about #charterschools: from @PublicAgenda & Spencer Foundation


#InPerspective can help change the convo on #charterschools - @wkfriedman of @PublicAgenda


PA in the News

A collection of stories citing work from Public Agenda, our Board and our partners. 

(USC Annenberg Reporting on Health)
Susan Gilbert of the Hastings Center wrote about "How Much Will It Cost?", our recent study on health care price transparency and a similar new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation. "[T]he surveys revealed interesting details and insights about the nascent attempts at transparency in health care prices and their utility in turning patients into well-informed health care consumers," she writes. "Both surveys agreed on two points. One of them is that for all the recent initiatives to increase the transparency of health care prices, this information is hard to find...The other point is that we also need more transparency about the quality of health care."

More coverage of "How Much Will It Cost?"

(Hospitals and Health Networks)

(Main Street)

(Revenue 360)


Public Agenda is a nonprofit organization that helps diverse leaders and citizens navigate divisive, complex issues. Through nonpartisan research and engagement, it provides people with the insights and support they need to arrive at workable solutions on critical issues, regardless of their differences. Since 1975, Public Agenda has helped foster progress on K-12 and higher education reform, health care, federal and local budgets, energy and immigration. Find Public Agenda online at

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