Mayor Muriel Bowser might be facing increasing political opposition, but she’s still popular with District voters, according to a new poll obtained by LL. The survey also shows support for more collaboration between charter schools and the D.C. Public Schools system.
The poll, commissioned by the Democrats for Education Reform-D.C. political action committee, found that Bowser had a 67-percent approval rating among 686 registered voters who were surveyed between Sept. 29 and Oct. 6.
The poll’s margin of error is +/- 3.6 percent with registered voters, and +/- 5.9 percent among District parents.
By comparison, around the same time in his first year as mayor, Vince Gray‘s approval rating was below 40 percent. Still, it’s worth considering that the poll wouldn’t have captured voters’ feelings about FreshPAC, the Bowser-affiliated PAC that started getting news coverage in late September.
Bowser’s staffers declined to comment on the poll numbers. While Bowser enjoys two-thirds job approval ratings, her numbers dip when it comes to schools, earning just a 53-percent approval rating from registered voters. Parents rated her performance on schools better, at 63 percent.
“You see it’s softer there,” DFER-DC director Catharine Bellinger says of Bowser’s approval rating.
DCPS chancellor Kaya Henderson earned similar numbers, with 56 percent of voters and 62 percent of parents approving of her job performance. In a statement, Henderson spokeswoman Michelle Lerner says they’re “proud that there is broad support” for Henderson and Bowser.
The most common grade to give the District’s schools was a “C,” at 44 percent of voters, followed by “B” with 25 percent. A barely passing grade might not seem like improvement, but 63 percent of registered voters said schools have improved over the last few years.
Victor Reinoso, Adrian Fenty‘s deputy mayor for education and the founder of an education technology company, agrees.
“I feel like ten years ago most voters would have rated schools ‘C,’ ‘D,’ and ‘F,'” says Victor Reinoso, a former who now runs an education technology company.
The poll also provides support for two agenda items popular with the school reform groups like Democrats for Education Reform: collaboration between the D.C. Public Schools system and chartered schools; and letting charter schools take over vacant DCPS buildings. DFER is not a neutral player in this fight—the organization is one of the most powerful charter advocates in the country.
Sixty-five percent of voters approved of the idea of DCPS partnering with charter operators to run struggling DCPS schools.
For the District’s dozen vacant school buildings, the most popular approach was to lease some to charters while hanging on to others, presumably in anticipation of an expected boom in the District’s school-age population. Fifty-eight percent of registered voters surveyed supported that combined approach, while just 13 percent wanted the District to hang on to all of the schools for DCPS.
“My advice to [Bowser’s] administration is this is a quick win,” Bellinger says of the vacant schools issue.
See the poll results below:
Photo by Darrow Montgomery