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Black Alliance for Educational Options Releases Survey Revealing a Hunger for Education Reform Among Black Voters
Published:
7/24/2013 3:22:29 PM


 

The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) has released the findings of a multi-state survey of Black adults concerning parental choice and education reform, showing strong support among this significant segment of the population for choice measures such as charter schools and state voucher programs. The study entitled, 'A Survey Report on Education Reform, Charter Schools, and the Desire for Parental Choice in the Black Community', conducted in March of this year and commissioned by BAEO, surveyed nearly 2,000 Black registered voters selected at random throughout four Southern states. BAEO designed the survey to gauge attitudes and opinions within the Black community on education reform, charter schools, and the need for parental choice in their community. The survey can be found on BAEO's website at www.baeo.org.

BAEO selected four states, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi, as targets for the survey because of the high number of low-income and working-class Black families in these states, who would potentially benefit from parental choice policies and other education reforms that have been the subject of recent and ongoing debate. The findings indicate strong support among the group for greater freedom in K-12 education, widespread recognition of the need or better quality schools, and openness to charter schools and publicly funded scholarships as reform vehicles.

Among the respondents, selected at random and broadly diverse in age and income:
  -85-89% in each state agreed that government should provide parents with as many choices as possible to ensure that their child receives a good education
  -55-58% in each state (and 73% in the New Orleans area) said they would not send their children to the public schools to which they are currently assigned if they had a choice
  -At least 50% in each state (and as many as seven in ten in Mississippi)
expressed support for charter schools

"The survey data supports the fundamental appeal of parent choice and transformational education reform as options within the Black community", said BAEO president Kenneth L. Campbell. "Choice means freedom, the freedom to do what's best for your child, the freedom that comes with open opportunity, and we've been fighting for freedom for more than 200 years. The data clearly shows that the time has come for us to stand up and fight for the choices and freedoms that we want for ourselves and our children."


Key findings of the survey included a desire for more educational options. Between 71-80% of Black voters surveyed in Alabama, Kentucky, and Mississippi expressed support for charter schools after hearing that they give lower-income Black students currently trapped in failing schools more opportunities. Likewise, in Louisiana, 77% of respondents expressed support of vouchers after hearing the following message: Publicly funded vouchers give low-income Black students who are trapped in poor and failing schools the opportunity to attend other schools they otherwise might not be able to afford. Respondents also noted a dissatisfaction with the status quo in their current educational systems.

Despite widespread recognition of the underperformance of many schools, support for more options was not exclusive to personally dissatisfied voters. In Alabama, 74% of Black voters who rated their community schools as poor expressed the desire to send their children elsewhere, but even among those who rated their school excellent, 36% would opt out if they were free to choose. In each state, 55-58% (and 73% in the New Orleans area) said they would not send their children to the public schools to which they are currently assigned if they had a choice.

Currently there are eight states in the US that do not have charter school laws in place. Kentucky and Alabama are two of those states. The majority of the respondents in all states surveyed supported the creation of charter schools and publicly funded scholarships or vouchers as vehicles for reform and means of empowering families.

At least 50% of respondents in each state (and as many as seven in ten in Mississippi) expressed support for charter schools before any persuasive attempts or additional information was provided. In Alabama, Kentucky, and Mississippi, the data showed strong support for charters across all age categories, but considerably stronger among younger voters. In the Black community, support is highest among voters with the most limited options today, those with lower incomes and fewer years of formal education; conversely, opposition to charter schools is strongest among Blacks with higher incomes and more years of formal education.

BAEO engaged Magellan Strategies, LLC as the polling firm for this project. Founded in 2006, Magellan is a data, information, and technology-consulting firm with extensive experience in politics and education reform.

"The need for transformational education reform is critical to the success of our communities", said Campbell. "This study shows that it is imperative that we find immediate, sustainable solutions for our children in order for them to succeed and escape the perilous cycles that our communities have been in for far too long."

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