Saturday, April 02, 2005

Vouchers in Texas

As the first hearings for three voucher bills in Texas approach, each side is trying to gain ground in the court of public opinion. Conventional wisdom says that most people oppose vouchers, but a recent poll of Hispanics suggests otherwise:

The poll targeted about 1,000 Hispanics in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, Tarrant and Travis counties [the counties containing San Antonio, Dallas Houston, and Austin] and asked about everything from teacher quality and segregation in schools to educators' expectations of Latino children.

It found that more than 70 percent statewide either strongly or somewhat favored a statewide school choice program and nearly 76 percent favored a limited pilot school choice program. Less than 29 percent of respondents described the overall quality of education that low-income, inner-city Latino children receive as excellent or good.

But, as with most polls, there's a catch:

...Kathy Miller, president of the Austin-based advocacy group Texas Freedom Network, said the survey questions didn't explain that the vouchers are taxpayer funded and take money out of public schools.

"It shouldn't surprise anyone that a pro-voucher group, backed by pro-voucher money would create a push poll that gave them the results that they want during a legislative session," she said. "They (respondents) were told the program wouldn't cost any additional money, but not told that it actually pulls money from the public school."

This is typically the way these things turn out. Ask someone if they favor giving parents of children in low performing schools a choice, they say yes. Ask someone if they favor diverting funds from the poorest public schools to private schools, they say no. Neither is wrong, but neither tells the whole truth.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a better poll question.

Does competition make schools better?

If the person answers yes. They are for vouchers.
If they answer "no", then their public school education left them too dumb to answer correctly.

9:11 AM  

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