Salt Lake City, UT – Independent research conducted by the non-profit Sutherland Institute shows thatUtah’s private schools are as broadly diverse as its public schools. Considering the students that vouchers are primarily intended to serve — low-income and minority students – the Institute anticipates that private schools are likely to become even more diverse if HB148 becomes law.
“Our survey results, collected from more than 40 private schools around the state, found no significant difference in racial diversity between private and public schools,” said Derek Monson, Sutherland Institute policy analyst.
Actual minority enrollment as a percentage of total student body for the 2006-2007 school year was 24.5 percent for voucher-eligible private schools and 24.8 percent for public schools. The federal data from 2003 shows Utah’s private schools have a slightly higher proportion of minority students compared to the public school system.
“A common misperception we hear is that vouchers will lead to segregation,” said Monson. “The data shows this is not true. Wherever voucher policy has been implemented in the U.S., low-income, struggling minority students – not affluent white students – are the ones leaving public schools and switching over to the private alternative. This trend suggests that private schools will only become more diverse with the implementation of HB 148.”
Carmen Torres, a single mother of three from West Valley, noticed how quickly her children were assimilated into their private school in Park City. “My oldest daughter was very nervous about attending a private school because she is shy and was worried if she would fit in as a Hispanic. But her worries were erased after just one day at the school. In fact, all three of my children feel much more comfortable at private schools, because they feel accepted for who they are and have many friends.”