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Voters And Vouchers: The People Speak.



In recent weeks, newspapers and broadcast outlets have carried stories and advertisements suggesting that African-American parents -- especially those in our nation's inner cities -- are desperate for voucher aid to send their children to religious and other private schools.

This media frenzy is driven by the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO BAEO Black Alliance for Educational Options ), a new organization founded this year to promote "educational choice." Although BAEO is actually a tiny front group operating out of Marquette University Marquette University at Milwaukee, Wis.; Jesuit; coeducational; chartered 1864, opened 1881. The school achieved university status in 1907. Among its graduate programs are those in business, engineering, and law.  and unrepresentative Adj. 1. unrepresentative - not exemplifying a class; "I soon tumbled to the fact that my weekends were atypical"; "behavior quite unrepresentative (or atypical) of the profession"  of the thinking of most civil rights leaders Below is a list of civil rights leaders:
  • Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), 16th President of the United States
  • Abernathy, Ralph (1926-1990)
  • Anthony, Susan B.
, many unwary reporters have bought the line that black families have given up on public schools and now favor taxpayer-subsidized tuition at private schools instead.

There's only one thing wrong with this picture: It's completely bogus.

During last November's elections, California and Michigan voters cast ballots in school voucher A school voucher, also called an education voucher, is a certificate by which parents are given the ability to pay for the education of their children at a school of their choice, rather than the public school (UK state school) to which they were assigned.  referenda. In both states, the proposals were voted down by wide margins. In California, Proposition 38 was defeated by a staggering 71 percent to 29 percent. In Michigan, Proposal I went down by a similar 69 percent to 31 percent.

These tests of voucher popularity were noted in the nation's news media, but in all the hubbub over the presidential election, not nearly enough attention was paid to the details of the referenda. Exit polls in both Michigan and California indicated that voters from every racial, religious, political and socio-economic classification rejected vouchers.

Contrary to the propaganda from the BAEO, African-American voters in California disapproved that state's sweeping voucher scheme by a 68 percent to 32 percent margin. In Michigan, the Detroit News reported that blacks rejected Proposal 1 by nearly four to one. Wayne County Wayne County is the name of sixteen counties in the United States of America, some named for the American Revolutionary War general Anthony Wayne:
  • Wayne County, Georgia
  • Wayne County, Illinois
  • Wayne County, Indiana
  • Wayne County, Iowa
 voters (where heavily black Detroit is located) rejected the scheme by a slightly higher margin than the rest of the state, tallying 72 percent against and only 28 percent for.

The results in Michigan came despite the fact that the pro-voucher campaign -- heavily financed by right-wing Amway millionaire Dick DeVos Dick DeVos (born Richard DeVos, Jr. October 21, 1955) is a businessman and Republican politician from Michigan. The son of billionaire Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, he served as CEO of the multi-level marketing consumer goods distribution company from 1993-2002.  -- recruited a small cadre of African-American clergy in Detroit to back the effort and give the appearance of black community support.

The voucher verdict among blacks was reflected among other racial groupings as well. A Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times

Morning daily newspaper. Established in 1881, it was purchased and incorporated in 1884 by Harrison Gray Otis (1837–1917) under The Times-Mirror Co. (the hyphen was later dropped from the name).
 exit poll found that whites (70-30 percent), Latinos (77-23 percent) and Asian-Americans (66-34 percent) also turned thumbs down on California's Prop. 38.

Repudiation See non-repudiation.  of vouchers also extended to a cross-section of religions. Although the Roman Catholic hierarchy repeatedly demanded that its parishioners support Michigan's Proposal 1, the flock decided not to comply. According to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 the Voter News Service The Voter News Service was a consortium whose mission was to provide results for United States Presidential elections, so that individual organizations and networks would not have to do exit polling and vote tallying in parallel. , Catholics there spurned spurn  
v. spurned, spurn·ing, spurns

v.tr.
1. To reject disdainfully or contemptuously; scorn. See Synonyms at refuse1.

2. To kick at or tread on disdainfully.

v.
 the scheme by 64 percent to 36 percent.

Even though Catholic schools would be the greatest immediate beneficiary of voucher programs, Voter News Service found that California Catholics rebuffed Prop. 38 by a 66-34 percent margin. The Los Angeles Times survey reported an even greater disparity, with 69 percent of Catholics saying they voted no, compared to only 31 percent who voted yes. (The majority of Catholic families send their children to public schools, and even many of those who patronize pa·tron·ize  
tr.v. pa·tron·ized, pa·tron·iz·ing, pa·tron·iz·es
1. To act as a patron to; support or sponsor.

2. To go to as a customer, especially on a regular basis.

3.
 parochial schools know that government aid will inevitably lead to government control.)

Protestants in California were only slightly more likely to support vouchers than Catholics. According to the Times, 65 percent of them turned their backs on such church school aid, while 35 percent embraced it. Jews were the most adamantly enthusiastic about church-state separation, casting 83 percent of their ballots against Prop. 38 and only 17 percent for.

The political breakdown on vouchers is also fascinating. According to the Detroit News, all political camps in Michigan voted against the DeVos scheme, except those who identified themselves as "strong" Republicans. Democrats there rejected the measure by four to one.

In California, similar results were found. The Los Angeles Times said 83 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of independents and 53 percent of Republicans opposed vouchers. The newspaper reported that 85 percent of self-described liberals had no use for private school aid, nor did 76 percent of moderates and 51 percent of conservatives.

Socio-economic factors also gave voucher boosters little hope for future success. Parents of public school students told pollsters in Michigan that they snubbed vouchers by more than two to one. In California, 68 percent of parents opposed Prop. 38, while 77 percent of those who weren't parents did so.

Age, gender, educational level and income also meant little in the antivoucher tide. Seventy-four percent of West Coast women shunned vouchers, while 67 percent of men did the same. Under-30 voters cast 75 percent of their ballots against the measure, while 72 percent of seniors followed suit. Those with a family income of less than $20,000 voted against Prop. 38 (73-27 percent) at about the same rate as those who made $75,000 or more (70-30 percent). Californians with only a high school diploma A high school diploma is a diploma awarded for the completion of high school. In the United States and Canada, it is considered the minimum education required for government jobs and higher education. An equivalent is the GED.  or less vetoed vouchers by a 70-30 percent margin, while those with a college degree or more did the same (71-29 percent).

What's the bottom line? A national exit poll says it all. According to The Washington Post, 78 percent of voters in November preferred fixing public schools while only 16 percent wanted to move to a voucher system.

Americans from all walks of life have rejected vouchers and cast a strong vote of confidence in our public school system. We hope our nation's elected officials take note.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Americans United for Separation of Church and State
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Church & State
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Words:883
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