A fascinating new poll out of North Carolina showing African-American families’ tendency to support school choice — even while African-American politicians are vocally opposed — highlights not just the disconnect between politicians and their constituencies, but something else equally interesting: how information that could be useful to the general public is often not widely disseminated.
Amelia Hamilton, writing for Watchdog.org, focuses on that important conclusion when she draws attention to this part of the report:
“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.
But even more interesting is what the report, and Hamilton, detail just above that little nugget:
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.
Information in today’s political and social climate is currency, and not just in a lip-service kind of way. It can literally sway public opinion toward funding of programs that are inefficient and simply don’t work at great cost to the taxpayer. Public education is just one example of how lack of information — in this case about how terrible graduation rates are and how many other options parents have at their disposal — leads many black voters to vote in politicians who have been espousing the “public education is great!” party line, even while looking around their own communities and recognizing the problems inherent in the system (to borrow an old Monty Python phrase).
At a recent school choice forum held in Denver by The Franklin Center, one African-American politician there — a Democrat no less — who was a great proponent of school choice, made a compelling argument that children should not be hampered by a partisan debate that concerns itself more with money and ideology than the kids’ own future successes.
And to her great credit, when someone asked if she had heard that school choice was being touted as promoting racism, she said she had but that no one had been able to produce any evidence that she found credible.
Which makes this story about a Black Lives Matter leader quitting the organization because he, as a proponent of school choice, couldn’t, in good conscience, stay with a group that he felt stifled the ability of young black students to succeed.
“Being that I am all for charter schools and ed reform, and as someone who is seeking educational justice for students and families, I could no longer be under that banner of Black Lives Matter,” Turner said, according to The 74. “Black Lives Matter has been co-opted. The movement’s been hijacked.”
Perhaps the information about the benefits of choice when it comes to education is finally getting out.