Latino voters want to hear about education, school choice – HCREO president Julio Fuentes, podcastED

If President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney want to win over Latino voters, a new survey of five battleground states suggests they do two things: Talk up education. And emphasize school choice.

More than voters in general, Latino voters are more likely to say education is a leading issue, just behind the economy and jobs, found the survey, released Tuesday by the American Federation for Children and the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options. The survey also found Latino voters are more likely than voters in general to support vouchers, tax credit scholarships and education savings accounts.

For instance, while 57 percent of likely voters said they supported vouchers, 69 percent of Latino voters did.

“Unfortunately a lot of our Latino families come from low-income areas (where) choice is the only way that they are going to be able to achieve that American dream, graduate high school and go on to make something of themselves,” Julio Fuentes, president and CEO of HCREO (and a Step Up for Students board member) said in the redefinED podcast attached below.

The survey results suggest both Obama and Romney will have challenges swaying Latino voters.

For Obama, it’s a matter of position. The president has endorsed school choice options such as charter schools, but has stopped short of backing vouchers and tax credit scholarships. For Romney, it’s a matter of emphasis. Hard-line positions on immigration may fire up the Republican base, but it’s not a top-tier concern for Latinos.

“The immigration debate from a national level has taken the spotlight. And this educational crisis that we find ourselves in, especially within our Hispanic community, just seems to never be discussed,” Fuentes said. “In a professional, politically roundabout way, we asked our candidates, President Obama and Gov. Romney, to basically give us their take. What’s their plan when it comes to the Hispanic educational crisis?”

The survey was conducted with likely November voters in Florida, Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey and New Mexico. You can see the full results here.

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BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director for policy and public affairs at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). Ron can be reached at or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at

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