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School choice is one of the most hotly debated issues among policymakers and activists, but relatively few Americans understand the issue, according to a new poll reported by ABC News.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents in a study conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research admitted to knowing little or nothing about charter schools. An even greater number, 66 percent, said they don’t know much about voucher programs.

Yet, there is widespread support for vouchers and charter schools. Nearly half of those polled—47 percent—favored opening more public charter schools, and 30 percent were neutral.

When it comes to tuition vouchers, which divert money that would otherwise go to traditional public schools to help parents afford alternatives, 43 percent of respondents supported offering vouchers to low-income families. Twenty-one percent of respondents did not care one way or the other.

Many experts are puzzled about the public’s lack of knowledge about vouchers and charter schools, which operate in 42 states and the District of Columbia.

“That’s pretty remarkable given the growth and high-profile politics around charters,” Patrick McGuin, a Drew University professor, told The Associated Press. “As much as policymakers are talking the heck about this, the debate really hasn’t permeated the general public’s discussion yet.”

NewsOne posted a primer that explains school choice. We’ve also posted videos of Professor Christopher Emdin of Columbia University breaking down the complexities of the issue.

SOURCE: ABC News, Associated Press


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