FACT: African-Americans are eager for reform, but, when given the choice, most of them consistently opt for smaller classes and other common-sense reforms-not vouchers.
Voucher supporters often cite a few polls to make this point-frequently, these include a 1998 Public Agenda poll and a 1999 poll by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. In doing so, however, voucher advocates conveniently ignore other, more recent polls and indicators. For example, a 2001 Zogby International poll offered African-Americans five options for improving education. Among blacks, the choice of "providing parents with school vouchers" finished dead last of the five options. In fact, African-Americans chose "reducing class sizes" over vouchers by a 7-to-1 margin.1 The nonpartisan Teachers Insurance Plan commissioned a poll by Opinion Research Corporation in 2001, which found that 61% of blacks and 59% of Latinos would rather see more funding "go toward the public schools than go to a voucher program."2
Perhaps the most important 'poll' is the ballot box. In November 2000, voters in Michigan and California handily defeated school voucher referenda. In both states, black and Latino voters rejected the voucher proposals by at least a 2-to-1 margin.3