Six times since 1990, overwhelming majorities of voters have rejected the idea that publicly funded vouchers and tuition tax credits for private and religious schooling are the way to improve education. Some $45 million spent to promote support for vouchers in California and Michigan this year failed to persuade even a third of the voters in those states. Urban, African American, Latino and Catholic voters – the very groups targeted by this campaign to abandon the American institution of universal public education and Common School ideals – have returned a landslide “No” verdict on vouchers, by margins of 2-, 3-, and even 4-to-1.
Even in a year in which the electorate is so closely divided that races for the House, Senate, and Presidency are still in doubt a full three weeks after the election, the American people have spoken with remarkable, dramatic clarity about one thing. They believe in their public schools, and they want to see them continue to improve. And, they are willing to pay for it. The voters have given their elected officials an unambiguous mandate. They want their representatives to abandon distractions like vouchers that divert us from the important task at hand and to fulfill their responsibilities to provide for public schools that provide high-quality education for all students, wherever they may live, whatever their families’ financial circumstances, and regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or special needs. The American people have spoken – it is time for legislators and representatives to listen, and to act.