Blog: Fact & Fiction – PDK Poll Uses Unreliable Voucher Question (Again)

By Matt Frendewey

The PDK/Gallup poll was released today. This annual poll is paid for by Phi Delta Kappa, a service organization that supports public education, which is why it should come as no surprise that some of the questions in the poll are questionable at best.

Notably, every year PDK releases and highlights the results about public support for vouchers. And every year since 1993, the question fails to include the word “vouchers” or “scholarships.” Instead, the question is designed to undermine support for educational choice. “Do you favor or oppose allowing students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public expense?”

It is worth noting that despite the negative wording of the question, support for the “allowing parents to choose a private school … at public expense,” still increased by six percent this year.

Further evidence to undermine this poll can be found in the EducationNext survey released on Tuesday of this week, which found that more than 51 percent of those surveyed supported educational choice and 61 percent supported tax credit scholarships for students to attend a private school of their parents’ choice. Additional support for educational choice is found throughout the country whether it’s in a recent poll AFC released in Oklahoma or the annual parental satisfaction survey the Louisiana Federation for Children released in April.

Despite the misgivings about PDK’s “voucher” question, there are several takeaways from the PDK worth highlighting.

  • 70 percent of those surveyed expressed support for charter schools (even though 48% believed charters are private and teach religious courses).
  • The poll found 54 percent believe “public charters schools” offer a better education than “other public schools.”
  • Only 17 percent gave public schools an A or B grade, 29 percent gave public schools a D or Failing grade with the majority of those polled ranking schools at a C with 51 percent.

Perhaps the last bullet point provides no better evidence about why parents deserve quality educational options.

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