A recent poll conducted by Democratic polling firm Beck Research found that education was a more important issue for Hispanics across the US than immigration. The poll found strong support across the the Hispanic community for greater choice and competition in order to improve the educational system.
Israel Ortega, writing for The Heritage Foundati0n’s Foundry blog, observed that while Hispanics are the fasting growing demographic in the US as a community they have a high school drop out rate approaching nearly 50%, so it can be deduced that the current education system is failing Hispanics. While concern for education policy has been becoming a mainstream issue of late, Ortega argues that the approach of many policymakers has simply been to increase funding and it is clear that this isn’t translating into academic achievement.
Andrew Gillen recently released a paper called ‘Introducing the Bennett Hypothesis 2.0’ , published by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. In this he revamps the controversial Bennett Hypothesis from 1987 which argues that federal aid actually increased the cost of tuition as the money would be siphoned by greedy colleges wherever possible. If the lesson that is translated to K-12 it becomes clear that simply throwing money at a problem in the hope it diminished does very little to help.
In addition to ineffective teachers and lack of accountability, many Hispanic families are forced to send their children to violent schools, making it increasingly difficult for students to graduate and earn high school diploma, which is vital in today’s highly competitive workplace.
Ortega argues that school choice, vouchers, and programs like educational tax credits all help inject choice and competition into the system.
Perhaps this is why a strong majority of the Hispanics polled for the survey agreed that “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.” Even more encouraging, Hispanics polled for the survey seem to reject liberal arguments that school choice is detrimental to public schools, agreeing that greater school choice is a positive force.
The findings of the poll were presented at the National Press Club at a press conference moderated by a senior advisor to the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options, Kevin Chavous.
Many of the Hispanics polled for the survey reside in swing states which is a potentially promising sign for Mitt Romney and the general Republican education reform platform in the run up to the 2012 Presidential election.