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Black Parents in the South Favor Increased School Choice, Says New Survey

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The vast majority of African-American voters in four Southern states believe the government should provide as many educational choices as possible to ensure their children receive a good education, says a new report released by the Black Alliance for Educational Options, a school choice advocacy group.

The report surveyed 1,700 black voters in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi in March 2013. In each state, 85 percent to 89 percent of those surveyed wanted as many educational choices as possible. More than half of those surveyed in each state—55 percent to 57 percent—said they would send their child to an alternative to their assigned school, if given the choice.

Across the four states, about half of the survey participants expressed support for charter schools. The more familiar they were with charter schools, the more likely voters were to support them, the survey found.

And unsurprisingly, those who rated their regular public schools highly were less likely to indicate they would opt out if an alternative were available. Those who rated their regular public schools poorly were much more likely to say they would move their children to an alternate school if it were available.

Although the survey sheds some light on the attitudes of black voters, the organization that released it acknowledged that it is not impartial on the issue of school choice. The Black Alliance for Educational Options states in the beginning of the report that it is an advocacy organization that aims to increase the amount of educational options available for black children.

And within the survey itself, the report says that after asking initial questions about charters to gauge the survey participants' knowledge of charter schools, participants were then given "informed ballot questions prefaced with facts about charters."

Those facts included nuggets like "charter schools in some communities have led to significant gains in academic performance, graduation rates, and college readiness for lower-income black students" and "charter public schools serving Black students were over three times as likely to close the achievement gap."

As you might imagine, after hearing those facts, the survey participants expressed a greater openness and receptivity to charter schools.

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