Poor Blacks Overwhelmingly Support Vouchers

Published February 1, 1998

When civil rights organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People organize to defeat voucher legislation, they may find themselves working against the wishes of their own constituencies. As reporter James Brooke pointed out in a December 27 front-page story in The New York Times, “vouchers appear to be deepening a generational and income divide between the older, more affluent leadership and the younger, more impoverished rank and file.”

The width of this divide is made clear by the results of a poll conducted last spring by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which revealed that 70 percent of blacks earning annual incomes less than $15,000 support vouchers for use at private and religious schools. At income levels above $35,000, support for vouchers dropped to 50 percent.

Age produces an even wider division, with little support for vouchers among older blacks and overwhelming support among the young. Only 19 percent of blacks aged 65 and over favor vouchers, compared to 86 percent of blacks aged 26 to 35.