The claim that choice worsens inequality possesses a certain surface appeal. Those who make this claim suggest that choice favors knowledgeable, affluent parents. Allegedly, the public system looks out in loco parentis for the poor and disadvantaged among us. It is frequently stated that private schools select the best and brightest, leaving the truly disadvantaged to slowly drown in a sociologically disadvantaged environment.

These claims cannot withstand examination. In our survey, school after school was asked whether they took only the best, the brightest and those from middle income families only, or from educated families. The common response was that the students who attend Detroit area private schools reflect the surrounding geographical areas which by and large were relatively poor, low-income and insome cases middle-income areas. A large number of schools reported a student body which was 95-99% black, characterized in many cases by single parent households. Most students who attend Catholic or Lutheran schools in Detroit are not Catholic or Lutheran. Those schools simply provide relatively strong educational leadership, relatively strong educational achievement, and relative safety. Accordingly, they were viewed by parents as an attractive option.

If one looks at East Catholic High School, located in a relatively low income area on the east side of Detroit, Evergreen Lutheran located in a lower-income area in the west side of Detroit, Sister Clara Muhammed, located on the lower east side in a poor area of Detroit, or countless other private schools, one finds that low-income and moderate-income parents, recognizing the deficiencies of local public schools, placed their children in private schools despite severe financial sacrifice.

To be sure, exceptions exist. Gesu School and Nataki Talibah attract students from fairly affluent families; Gesu because of location in an affluent area on the north side of Detroit and Nataki because its tuition is relatively high.

As Sugarman points out, the general claim that choice favors the rich is simply unexamined nonsense.

It is often asserted that rich, white and savvy folks will . . . exploit the system at the expense of the non-rich, non-white, and less savvy folks. To those of us who favor choice as a way to help children of the poor, there is something exasperating about this complaint. The present system, after all, already clearly favors those with money who can so much more easily buy their way into schools of choice by paying tuition or purchasing a home in a public school system of their choice. [48]

The poor, the non-white, the less-educated parent recognizes more clearly than the bureaucrats and special interest groups the failures of public education. As Dr. Clark points out, unaccountable monopolies fail the constituency in most need of educational achievement: the poor.

The poor and the non-white in our present public system are viewed as powerless and unworthy of being allowed to hold the well-paid professional elite to account.

To the contrary, we believe that the poor, the non-white, the non-rich deserve an opportunity to choose. Choice must be backed by sufficient economic power to make it a reality, not simply a theoretically plausible ideal. The perceptiveness of African-Americans, who are among the groups who have the most to gain from choice, is reflected by public opinion polls which indicate over 72 percent of blacks favor schools of choice. In contrast, only 60 percent of whites favor choice. Moreover, public school teachers in Detroit favor choice to a great degree. One-third of Detroit public school teachers place their children in private schools. This is twice the rate for Detroiters as a whole.