California Education Poll Results Announced
By Ras H. Siddiqui

The New America Media (NAM) along with Pollster Sergio Bendixen, presented the results of a poll conducted on education amongst minorities in California on Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at the California State Capitol.
In an hour long meeting attended by both mainstream and ethnic media outlets, NAM Executive Director Sandy Close along with Sergio introduced and elaborated on the poll findings, while discussants, UC Davis Professor Patricia Gandara and Graciela Italiano-Thomas of Los Angeles Universal Preschool offered their comments and critique. The event was sponsored by the Office of Assemblymember Wilma Chan.
Call it a “Melting Pot” or sometimes even a “Salad Bowl” if you must, but California has within its borders just about every ethnic group representative that one can imagine. From within this diversity, the Latino, African American and Asian (Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese) represent significant segments, which this poll identified as its target and sources of information, but now on to its findings.
“Great Expectations: Multilingual poll of Latino, Asian and African American parents reveals high educational aspirations for their children and strong support for early education,” said the Press Release. But beyond the response, other interesting facts were also revealed after 602 interviews conducted in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Korean. 200 African Americans, 201 Latino and 201 Asian households were polled. The majority of youngest age group of parent responders were Latino.
In terms of education, 66% of the Asian responders were college graduates compared to 26% of African Americans and only 15% of the Latinos. These figures by themselves represent significant variations not only in education but also in household incomes. Asians are already aware of the importance of higher education as a trusted path out of poverty from their countries of origin. And they do instill this value (as much as they can) into their American born children.
From the poll results on a range of issues such as affordable housing, quality of public education, illegal immigration, the economy and unemployment, access to health care, traffic congestion and public safety, all three groups polled were almost equally concerned (give or take a few percentage points), except that Latinos expressed more concern about illegal immigration than the other groups and Asians expressed more interest on traffic congestion. African Americans were slightly more concerned about the quality of public education than the other two groups.
On the rating of public schools in California 65% of Latinos said that they were excellent/good versus only 24% for African Americans and 33% amongst Asians. 65% of African Americans rated our schools as mediocre or poor compared to 59% for Asians and only 33% for the Latino community. More Asians and African Americans attributed the poor performance of public schools to low levels of funding while the Latinos blamed themselves and lack of parental involvement for the problem. But “Exit Exams” found support from all three communities (Asians led with 86% supporting the exam versus 68% of African Americans and 80% of Latinos).
On expectations for their children, 80% of Latinos expect their kids to go through college versus 86% for African Americans and a whopping 90% for Asians. It remains to be seen how many actually make it through that goal and what parents themselves are doing to ensure that the foundations for this task are there to build upon.
The poll found that 91% of Latino parents have met their child’s teacher two or more times since the start of the school year versus 85% of the African Americans and 73% of Asian parents. On how many nights a week they help their kids with their homework, the answers ranged from 52% -56% within the three groups. On the question of Pre-School programs only 8% of Latino parents thought that children under the age of 5 should be at home with their parents versus 9% of African Americans and 22% of Asians.
Asians on the other hand stressed educational over recreational activity for their children under the age of five.
The findings of this Bendixen & Associates poll are not exactly surprising and it is refreshing to note that in collaboration with NAM , these polls are conducted both in English and the native language of selected population segments. In all probability, the South Asian (Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani etc.) community response will be close to that of the Asians polled here, but one cannot be absolutely certain of that. Maybe we too should volunteer to be polled in English, Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu for NAM and Bendixen’s next effort.

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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