Questioning Vouchers

Boardbuzz happily bathes in the warm glow from the top line finding from this St. Pete Times poll about school vouchers in Florida. Now I’m no fan of vouchers, but I do get tired of polls with poorly worded questions about them. The SPT asked respondents:

Some people say that state funds should only go to public schools. Others say the state of Florida should pay for private schooling if the public school a child attends is failing. In this situation would you be for or against giving state funds to private schools?

The problem is the sentiment captured in the final line: “giving state funds to private schools.” Sure, that’s part of the issue with vouchers but it’s not a clean way to ask the question because it loads it. I haven’t seen the entire poll so I don’t know if they asked the question in multiple ways but I’d bet that if you asked it with an emphasis on parents being able to chose schools, even private schools with public money, you’d get a different result.

Now it may well be that Floridians oppose vouchers and are really serious about reforming their public schools, I’d like to think so, you just can’t be sure from questions like this. And, to the extent that public school supporters take false comfort based on bad information, that’s a problem. Incidentally, along these lines it’s cold comfort that the SPT is happy that their poll jibes with the PDK poll, which has problems of its own.

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