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Monday, 9 October, 2000, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
Stakes rising in voucher ballot
Proposition 38 anti-campaigners
Proposition 38 would pay parents $4,000 per child
Television adverts and online campaigning are raising the stakes - and the expense - in California's school voucher ballot.

Campaigners for and against what would become the biggest voucher scheme in the world have so far raised $45.5m for advertising and promoting their arguments.

Next month the state will vote on whether every parent of a school-age child should be given a $4,000 voucher which they could spend on their child's education, including private school fees.

The proposal - called Proposition 38 - would provide $4,000 for each of the six million pupils in the state's schools - and would apply equally regardless of parental income or size of family.

Much of the funding of the anti-vouchers campaign has come from teachers' unions, which have attacked the proposal as threatening to destroy the public education system.

$3bn a year

Anti-voucher campaigners say the scheme would take $3bn a year out of the public school system - which they say would leave schools underfunded and unable to provide an adequate service.

But the pro-voucher campaign, which has drawn much of its funding from businessman Tim Draper, says that the proposal will rescue pupils currently trapped in failing state schools.

In particular, the proposition has divided the black and Hispanic communities - with both campaigns warning of the dangers ahead if the other side wins.

Pro-voucher campaigners say that a disproportionately large number of black and Hispanic pupils are in the lowest achieving schools - and that the voucher system will give their parents the money they need to send them to private schools.

But the anti-voucher campaign says that the voucher scheme is a way of subsidising private education for the middle classes - and that black and Hispanic pupils will be kept in state schools with even less money than before.

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See also:

03 Sep 00 | Education
Voucher system aids black pupils
27 Jul 00 | Education
Vote on biggest voucher plan
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