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Poll: African-American voters support school choice more than pols

By   /   September 9, 2016  /   No Comments

A new poll by Parents for Educational Freedom North Carolina finds that African-American voters overwhelmingly support school choice, in contrast to most black politicians.

North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program grants scholarships of up to $4,200 for eligible children in the state to attend a private school, and is disproportionately used by black families, which make up 22 percent of the population in North Carolina but comprise 40 percent of the program’s applicants.

“Race and politics have long been intertwined with education, and Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina has worked hard over the years to bridge those racial and political North Carolina Black School Choicedivides,” the report says. “But as applications from African-American families pour into the Opportunity Scholarship Program year after year, we face a conundrum: How do we reconcile such powerful demand for school choice with intractable opposition from elected officials of color – officials who, in many cases, count these same families as constituents?”

The poll found that more than “eight in ten African-American voters believe state lawmakers must do more to expand educational options for families in our state.” For African-American democrats, that number increases to 82 percent.

It also found that 65 percent of black voters are more likely to support candidates who support school choice. Only 14 percent would be less likely to support a school-choice candidate, while the remaining 14 percent say it would make no difference. Nearly a third of voters who do not support school choice said they would still apply for a scholarship.

While applications are high, with 23,000 coming in from all 100 counties in the state, numbers are lower than they might be because of low awareness of the program.

“Among those low-income families familiar with the Program, demand is tremendous. However, this new poll highlights another ongoing reality: Overall familiarity with the Program is still unacceptably low among our state’s poorest African-American voters,” the report says.

“The opinions in this poll provide powerful evidence of what we have long observed: A great and puzzling disconnect exists between African-American voters and their elected representatives,” report concludes.

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Amelia Hamilton was a former Watchdog.org education correspondent.