NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Denver Minorities Demand Voucher Schools

December 29, 1997

Black and Hispanic parents in Denver have joined a class-action lawsuit to obtain publicly financed vouchers to send their children to private and parochial schools. With nearly 3,500 signatures from parents, organizers say they could have signed up 10,000 plaintiffs if time had not run out for soliciting more plaintiffs at black churches and Hispanic grocery stores.

  • The end of busing in Denver two years ago coincided with a perception of general decline in academic performance in public schools.
  • Last month, reading and writing scores for the school district's fourth-graders showed 58 percent of whites proficient in reading and 31 percent proficient in writing, but among black and Hispanic students, only 24 percent were proficient in reading and 10 percent in writing.
  • High school drop-out rates for Denver Hispanic students are 34 percent, for blacks 23 percent and for whites 16 percent.

Last week, proposed language for an amendment to the state constitution that would permit vouchers was submitted to a legislative review council.

Legal analysts say the suit seems to have little chance of winning without a change in the state constitution. The suit calls for vouchers and transportation for any student who wants them.

Source: James Brooke, "Minorities Flock to Cause of Vouchers for Schools," New York Times, December 27, 1997.


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