Protestant, Roman Catholic, and nonsectarian schools stand to benefit greatly from school-voucher measures on ballots in California and Michigan. But both measures face significant opposition among voters, based on recent opinion surveys. Proposal 1 in Michigan and Proposition 38 in California would give thousands of dollars to parents who want to place children in private or parochial schools. Parents in Michigan would get $3,150 per year, roughly half of what the state spends on each public-school student. The California measure would give parents $4,000 per year, a little more than half of that state's $7,000-per-child annual expenditure. A Field Poll in August showed the California measures in a dead heat, with around 40 percent on each side; a Los Angeles Times poll in June had Prop 38 winning by 10 percentage points, 51 to 41. Michigan's Proposal 1 still had a summertime lead, 45 to 37 percent, in statewide polls. Detroit residents gave the voucher measure higher support. During the fall, voucher proponents enthusiastically cited a Harvard University study that found African-American students who transferred to a voucher-funded private school scored higher on achievement tests than their public-school peers. The Harvard study concluded that if those student gains held up over time, "the black-white test gap could be eliminated" in some instances with the use of vouchers. But one of the researchers connected to the Harvard study in September has openly questioned the study's provoucher findings, calling them premature.In the meantime, opponents of vouchers have seen their words used in favor of the measure. California's Democrat Gov. Grey Davis was reportedly chagrined to see remarks he made in a January address to ...1
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