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Survey shows one fourth of Americans want to end Public Schooling

Rises to half if private scholarships available for poor

FRESNO, Calif. - Alliance for the Separation of School & State announced results of a national survey taken Oct. 22-25, 1998: One out of four Americans (27%) support repealing compulsory school attendance and ending tax support for schooling. The number favoring these measures jumped to over half (57%) when those opposed to the idea were asked to reconsider, if they "were assured that there would be enough private scholarships available so that all poor and disadvantaged students had the chance to go to better schools than today."

Marshall Fritz, Director of the Fresno, Calif. Alliance announced the poll results as part of the buildup to the group's fourth annual conference, SepCon'98.

Fritz noted that those with the greatest need to improve their children's education were the most responsive to the Educational Freedom idea if sufficient private scholarships are available: Black support jumped from 26% to 61%, low-income support from 26% to 62%, and ages 18-34 from 28% to 63%.

SepCon'98 co-sponsor Rev. E. Ray Moore, founder of Exodus Mandate, was excited about the survey: "When I propose that Christian children should be removed from 'public schools' and that we should separate schools from the state, the first question is almost always about the poor. This survey shows that Educational Freedom will be feasible when we can show convincing evidence that private scholarships will take care of the disadvantaged. This indicates a need for churches to bring financial support to Christian education."

The Alliance was founded in 1994 by Marshall Fritz and other parents, educators, and concerned citizens as a grass-roots, non-profit educational organization with the mission of informing Americans how education can be improved, especially for the poor, by ending government involvement in K-12 education.

As of August, 2000, more than 10,000 have endorsed the Alliance’s "Proclamation for the Separation of School and State," including home school leaders from Mary Pride to Gregg Harris and Cathy Duffy, policy leaders from Allan Carlson to Howard Phillips and Edward Crane, journalists from Linda Bowles to Wm. Murchison Murchison, concerned citizens from Tom Monaghan (founder of Domino's Pizza) to Thomas Szasz, and  religious leaders ranging from Dr. D. James Kennedy to Rabbi Daniel Lapin and Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. For more information, call (559) 499-1776 or visit www.SepSchool.org.

Technical Note

The poll was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, International, Princeton, N.J. as part of the ongoing weekly CARAVAN Survey. It consisted of 1012 adults using advanced probability sampling techniques. Sampling tolerance is plus or minus three percent. The text of the primary question was: "Some people have suggested that government should no longer provide schooling. They want to repeal compulsory school attendance and end tax support for schooling. Instead, private groups such as teachers, parents, churches and businesses would sponsor schools of their choice. Parents could select any school for their children to attend. They would be able to pay tuition by using money saved from their reduced taxes.

"Smith favors this idea. He says it will allow parents to make sure their children receive the type of schooling and values they approve of. He feels that competition will ensure that a variety of good schools are available. Smith believes that financially able individuals and churches will voluntarily provide scholarships for students who lack the money for tuition.

"Jones opposes this idea. He says schooling is one of the major responsibilities of government. He feels it is too risky to make schooling optional and that some parents will not send their children to school. Jones also feels we cannot depend on voluntarily-provided scholarships to ensure that poor students have the money for tuition."

Respondents were asked if they agreed with Smith or Jones, strongly or somewhat. Percentages mentioned above are the sum of those who strongly or somewhat agreed with Smith.

A second question was asked of those who agreed with Jones: "Since you oppose this idea, let me ask you a hypothetical question. If you were assured that there would be enough private scholarships available so that all poor and disadvantaged students had the chance to go to better schools than today, then how would it affect your opinion of this idea?"

Those now supporting the idea were added to those already supporting the idea, and the result divided by the sample size to re-compute the approval percentage. The full survey results are available for $5.00 by calling (559) 499-1776.

[Updated August 31, 2000]

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