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Latino Education Survey Research Results

 

Our recent survey in five battleground states among likely November voters and Latinos

demonstrates that education is a top issue for candidates to address. Latinos, in

particular, want to hear more from the candidates on education and strongly support

greater school choice. These likely voters agree that giving parents more choices of

schools will improve the education system.

 

This survey demonstrates that voters strongly back a greater school choice agenda. We

probed a series of school choice proposals and each receives substantial support among

all voters, but Latinos display particular strength of support. Three-quarters of voters

(74%) support special needs scholarships and strong majorities support Education

Saving Accounts, tax credit programs and Opportunity Scholarships, also known as

school vouchers. In each case, Latino support outpaces support among White voters. In

addition, most voters (85%) back providing vouchers in some form, including just 11%

who think vouchers should be restricted to only low-income families.

 

The survey fielded April 17-24th among a total of 1050 likely November voters across

five states with the potential to be battlegrounds and which contain a large percentage

of Latino voters (Arizona, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico and Nevada), including an

additional 300 Latinos (a total of 380 Latinos). The margin of error is +/- 3.6%.

 

• Education is a top tier issue for battleground voters and Latinos. Improving K to 12

education is a high priority for voters (mean of 8.3 out of 10/8.8 out of 10 among

Latinos), standing behind the economy/jobs (mean of 9.4 out of 10) and in line with

reducing the budget deficit (mean of 8.5 out of 10). Latinos are more likely than

likely voters overall to cite improving education and increasing education options for

parents as core priorities.

 

• Latinos want to hear from the presidential candidates on education. Education is a

top priority for Latinos and 58% of Latinos agree that “we need to hear more from the presidential candidates on how they will improve education,” compared to 37%

who say “we need to hear more from the presidential candidates on other issues

before we talk about education.” In addition, a majority of Latinos (53%) say

“improving education for all children is central to improving our economy,”

compared to 44% who say “improving the economy needs to be our biggest

priority.”

 

• Voters, especially Latinos, agree that greater school choice is a positive force.

There is strong agreement that "choice and competition among schools improves

education" (65% agree), compared to 26% who say “choice and competition among

schools hurts education.” A majority of voters (56%) agree that "giving parents more

choices of schools will improve the education system" while just 38% say "giving

parents more choices of schools does not impact the quality of education.”

 

• Opportunity Scholarships or Vouchers receive strong support, especially among

Latinos. Across each of the five target states, a majority supports Opportunity

Scholarships (see table below); the proposal starts with an 18-point advantage, 57%

support – 39% oppose, and after voters hear positive and negative information,

support for the proposal increases to 61% with 35% opposed. Among Latinos,

support is initially stronger with 69% backing the proposal while just 29% oppose it.

Opportunity Scholarships also garner strong support among other key

demographics; Independents support it by 15-point margin and young women by 19

points. While White parents back it by 21-points, Hispanic parents support it by an

amazing 55-point margin.

Screen shot 2012 05 15 at 2.08.56 PM

• Additional school choice programs are very popular. Beyond Opportunity

Scholarships, we tested three other versions of school choice programs and found

that each of these receives stronger support than traditional voucher programs.

Special need scholarships are supported by an astonishing 74% of likely voters and

80% of Latinos. Tax credit programs where non-profit organizations award

scholarships to eligible students and Education Saving Accounts, which use state

funds to create a personal account for parents, also garner wide support.

 

In addition, 85% of voters and 91% of Latinos think vouchers and tax credit

scholarships in some form should be available; only 36%, however, think they should

be available to all students regardless of household income while 38% say vouchers

should be available to middle class and low-income families. Few voters (11% of

likely voters and 14% of Latinos) think vouchers should be restricted to low-income

families.

 

• In terms of messaging, the top two arguments both focus on immediate benefits of

Opportunity Scholarships for students. The arguments in favor of opportunity

scholarship programs are very persuasive.

 

* The strongest argument among all voters is “Opportunity scholarship

programs give children from low income families a way out of failing schools

so they are not forced to wait indefinitely for their local schools to improve.

Students should not be sentenced to a poor education based upon their zip

code” (38% very convincing, 70% very or somewhat convincing among all

voters; 43% very convincing, 74% very or somewhat convincing among

Latinos).

 

o The second strongest argument is “Vouchers provide an immediate path for

children from low income families in failing schools to access a better

education. Studies show that children in these programs have higher

graduation rates, higher academic achievement and parents are more

satisfied with their child’s school.” (33% very convincing, 74% very or

somewhat convincing among all voters; 41% very convincing, 79% very or

somewhat convincing among Latinos).

 

• Finally, we probed a series of education reforms and found that voters think teacher

based reforms would do the most to improve schools.

 

o A majority (57%) think reforming Last In, First Out would definitely improve

schools, although Latinos lag behind this popular reform (48% definitely

improve).

 

o In contrast, Latinos are more likely than other voters to say that providing

higher teacher pay for higher performing teachers would definitely improve

the schools (57% definitely improve among Latinos compared to 45% among

all voters).

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