Thursday, March 31, 2005

School Vouchers Popular in New Poll

Carolyn Boyle is correct. The poll on Hispanic support for vouchers is bogus. -Angela

March 30, 2005, 12:47AM

School Vouchers Popular in New Poll
But critics blast group's survey of Hispanics voters as 'totally bogus'
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau

AUSTIN - In a poll sponsored by a group working to pass a school voucher bill, almost 73 percent of Harris County Hispanics support the proposed legislation for at-risk children.

"This poll unequivocally verifies what we have known for a long time: Hispanic parents, particularly those in Texas' largest, inner-city school districts, understand school choice offers their children a better future," said Rebeca Nieves Huffman, president and CEO of the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options, the group that sponsored the poll.

The poll of about 1,000 Hispanic voters in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Travis counties shows that almost 76 percent favor a pilot voucher program in Texas' largest, inner-city school districts.

The poll was conducted between Feb. 23 and March 2, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Carolyn Boyle, coordinator of the Coalition for Public Schools, said Tuesday the poll is "totally bogus," because it didn't give the full story.

"The people who promote private school vouchers always want to ask nebulous questions, and they never ask about the cost," she said. "Had they asked, 'Do you think we should spend a couple of hundred million dollars taken away from neighborhood schools?' they would have said no."

In a Scripps Howard Texas Poll earlier this year, 55 percent said they were opposed to using taxpayer-funded vouchers to allow public students to attend private schools, and 39 percent were in favor.

House Bill 1263 would create a school voucher program in the five largest urban school districts. There are at least two related bills the committee may consider, HB 12 and HB 3042.

Boyle said the respondents also aren't identified as parents.

"It's hard for Jose Q. Public to know the quality of the public schools if they don't have a child in public schools," Boyle said. "This is just a push poll to push a bill."

Even so, Marcela Garcini, Texas parent coordinator for the Hispanic group, said the poll should send a strong message.

"When 76 percent of Democrats favors school choice, it's time for our elected officials in Austin to listen to their constituents and to implement a pilot program," Garcini said.

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