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Public schools were more highly rated in 2002 than they were in 2000, but whites continue to be far happier with their schools than people of color. Most whites give their local public schools the highest grade, while the majority of African Americans and Hispanics give theirs only a fair grade.
According to the 2002 National Opinion Poll on Education, published by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C., public schools were rated excellent or good by 54.9% of whites, 42.9% of Hispanics, and 35.2% of African Americans.
Blacks were in a near even, three-way split as to whether their schools had gotten better or worse. The poll’s most significant finding was that opposition to school vouchers is increasing among people who actually vote, says David Bositis, author of the survey and a Joint Center senior research associate.
Overall opposition increased four percentage points from 44% to 48%, while support increased three percentage points from 49% to 52%. Age was a key factor. Regardless of race, young adults strongly supported vouchers, but senior citizens — who are more likely to vote — oppose them.
African Americans and Hispanics showed greater support for increased public school funding than did whites. Most African Americans live in central cities, but more money is spend on education in suburban areas, where houses are appraised higher and more real estate tax is collected.
“Virtually everybody who is African American wants to spend more money on education,” says Bositis. “They want their kids to go to good schools, and they realize you have to spend more money if you want good education.”