Saturday, August 28, 2004

Polling opinion about school vouchers & the RNC, NYC

Polling opinion about vouchers to send kids to parent-selected schools

Any hope for further educational reform under the next Presidency? If Bush gets in, will he have the courage of his Faith-Based Initiative to take a step beyond his first-term educational policy, No Child Left Behind? On August 20, a foundation made a preemptive strike on polling public opinion to test for different results according to how questions were asked in regard to a future policy of school vouchers. The Friedman Foundation released its tell-tale findings just four days before the professional educatonist fraternity, Phi Delta Kappa, could get results out, from their own, quite biased, polling questions, just before the Republican National Convention opened in New York City.

The question is whether parents and guardians of kids should have "the freedom to choose a school based on its quality, not their address,” says Friedman Foundation's Robert Enlow. “This study reflects the support the Foundation encounters everyday across the country — parents want choice. They want an education that works for their child, regardless of whether the school is public or private."

Note that even Enlow buys into the archaic false distinction here between public and private, when the actual difference largely is between state-directed and nonstate-directed schools that stand in a middle relation between the tax-supporting responsiblity of the state and the parents who associate to educate their kids thru one kind of school or another, schools which should be chosen by them based on their philosophy of education. The idea of a herd philosophy of education is endemic to state-directed education. And a whole ideology must be constructed by teachers groups, like the National Education Association and the professional fraternity Phi Delta Kappa to explain why they should control things and not the actual government or the parents either. As Endlow continues, "Unfortunately, well-funded groups which advocate only for government schools distort the views of the majority.”

"The study, sponsored by the Friedman Foundation, set out to determine, using a sound methodology of split sampling, if the annual Phi Delta Kappa poll, to be released on August 24, used wording that could artificially lower support for school choice.

"Half of the sample was asked the more negative PDK question, 'do you favor or oppose allowing students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public expense?' Only 41 percent supported school vouchers when presented this way.  The other half was asked the more neutral question 'do you favor or oppose allowing students and parents to choose any school, public or private, to attend using public funds?' The support was significantly higher with 63 percent supporting school vouchers." [Italics added–Owlb]

Now, I've got to find out what Phi Delta Kappa's Poll claims, having just been released August 24. Pause.... I'm back, and I found it. It's long and complex, but on one question that I noticed, results were reported in a table. This poll of public opinion by PDK and Gallup asks, "Would knowing that a candidate for national office"–let's say, for President of the USA–supports vouchers for parents to use to pay for [kids to study at nonstate-directed] schools make you more or less likely to vote for that candidate?" I couldn't resist subsituting in a more normative linguo, and also the phrase "pay for private schools" irked me. It's not the schools the government is asked to pay for, it's asked to finanacially support the kids so that they can study elsewhere than in government-directed schools which are bankrupt in educational philosophy and learning results.

Results: Parents with kids in government-directed schools felt by 40% that they'd be "More likely" to vote for the voucher-supporting Presidential candidate. By 44% "Less likely," by 12% "No difference (volunteered),"* and by 4% "Don't know."

*My inserted asterisk poinpoints an interesting deviance. 12% didn't like the choices given them in this question. They didn't want "More likely" vs "Less likely" with a Know-nothing last option. They wanted to say they'd vote for their candidate either way he went on the education question, or for neither candidate no matter his position on vouchers. ... But let's get on with the matter at hand.

Parents with no children in any school were 41% "More likely," 45% "Less likely," 11% "No difference (volunteered)," and 3% "Don't know." I happen to think that 40% of parents with kids in public schools supporting a President who advocates vouchers for them to send their kids to nonstate-directed schools is a very powerful, serious indictment of PDK's statist horizon, of the NEA ideology, and, as to political parties, not just the Democrats, as we shall see in a moment.

But in the meantime, an incredible blow has hit the Republicans in the last couple of days regarding education policy. Some say the devestation has whacked the "conservatives," but this is quite inaccurate. The conservative position in America is anti-pluralization of schooling. And advocates of tax-support for all kinds of schools, the antistatist position that doesn't oppose support for those who want to send their kids to state-directed schools but insists that other schools be supported equally per child, includes some conservatives and some of all sorts of other political, religious, and philosophical views. On this issue, we're all up against a vocabulary skewered idiotically to misname the realities involved.

In any case, back to the Republican National Convention's foreplay around the planks for the Party's 2004 Platform. The Platform Committee's subcommitte on education has met in New York City (which as I write has been placed under seige already by anarchists and hate criminals). But, as I was saying, those Republicans dominating the adoption of the education plank (we can't call them "liberals" either, as they are statists on this issue, to be sure) would have none of anything slightly pluralizing in education. In other words, the very system of educaton-support is to teach the children intolerance. So, the old totalitarianism of the American school system has been re-enforced once again.

Here's what Timothy Carney reports in National Review (a thoroly conservative mag to be sure): "After all was done with the subcommittee, the first sentence [of the new Republican education plank] appeared as: 'Public Education is a foundation of a free and civil society [emphasis added].'" A delegate to the convention, Kelly "Shackelford and others tried in full committee to add other kinds of education to that sentence, but they were defeated again, at the urging of [Rep. Phil] English of Pennsylvania whose work "had the endorsement of the National Education Association." Why couldn't there have been support for both state-directed and nonstate-directed education? We had thot the Republicans at this point would have been more principled and would have more acumen than to produce this statist stance for the education plank of their Party's Platform in 2004. One thing to watch over, in these next few days, is whether this education plank in the Platform will be approved "unanimously," or will there be some brave souls who stand against the tide and contest its adoption from the floor of the convention. I'd bet not.

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