PDK/Gallup Poll Provides Inaccurate Results about Educational Choice

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 21, 2013) – The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, challenged the accuracy of a new poll paid for and released by PDK Inc., an organization that lobbies for the status-quo in public education. The polling summary alleges that “70% of Americans oppose school vouchers…”, although the poll language does not even include the word “voucher” in the poll question.

“It is disappointing to see a pro-public education group be so intellectually dishonest,” said Kevin P. Chavous, executive counsel for the American Federation for Children. “Millions of parents across the country are demanding educational choice, that’s why governors and state legislatures have responded and today more children than ever before are attending the school of their parents’ choice. The poll results are inaccurate and the poll question is intended to mislead those being surveyed.”

The poll asked respondents about various other forms of educational choice, including charter schools, homeschooling and online education. In each of those instances, respondents overwhelmingly favored these educational options. When PDK asked respondents about their support for publicly funded private school choice, the question was worded, “Do you favor or oppose allowing students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public expense?” This question parrots the same false narrative that opponents of educational choice have been using for 30 years. It is not the school that is funded, it is a child, who then attends a school of their parents’ choice.

“Vouchers, opportunity scholarship, tax credit scholarships, and education savings accounts are all very real and very important options for parents, most of whom are low-income parents. For PDK Inc. to ignore those choices and instead rely on a loaded question suggests a motivation to create a particular result,” added Chavous.

States across the country continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to create and expand educational choices for parents and children. During the 2011-12 legislative session, 19 states passed a publicly funded private school choice bill through at least one legislative chamber, and thus far in 2013, 15 states have passed legislation out of at least one chamber.

This is a result of more and more policymakers heeding the demands of parents who want to ensure their child has access to a quality education in a school that best fits their needs. More and more Democrats and Republicans have come to believe that no child should remain trapped in a school that fails them just because of their ZIP code.

Fast Facts

  • Three new statewide programs were created in 2013
  • In the past four years, 20 new publicly funded educational choice programs have been enacted
  • Nationwide, 39 educational choice programs exist in 18 states, Washington, D.C. and Douglas County, Colorado
  • More than a quarter of a million students participate in publicly funded private school choice programs
  • Numbers released last week, indicate that more than five times as many applications were received for Wisconsin’s new statewide voucher program than seats available.
  • With only a month long window for enrollment, Ohio’s new voucher program received more than 1,700 applications.
  • Step up for Student’s announced that Florida’s statewide tax scholarship program increased by more than 25 percent and 61,000 students will participate in the program for the 2013-14 school year.
  • In May, the Louisiana’s voucher program grew by 60 percent compared to the previous year, with 12,000 students applying for scholarships.

Previously Released Poll Conflict with PDK Results

  • August 20, 2013, Education Next poll found that 44 percent of respondents favored offering “all families” vouchers and only 37 percent opposed.
  • July 23, 2013, Black Alliance for Educational Options released the results of a multi-state poll which concluded that 85-89 percent (depending on state) of black voters say government should provide parents as many choices as possible.
  • March 19, 2013, Marquette University released a poll indicating that 52 percent of respondents support vouchers.
  • June 2012, Beacon Center of Tennessee and Friedman Foundation released a poll in Tennessee that found 59 percent of respondents supported vouchers.
  • June 2012, the American Federation for Children released a poll that found 62 percent of Arizona residents supported the state’s new educational choice program.
  • April 2012, AFC and the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options released a poll which found that 91 percent of Latinos think vouchers and tax credit scholarships should be available in some form.

The American Federation for Children is the nation’s leading school choice advocacy organization and works in states across the country to help secure additional, high-quality educational options for families.

Kevin P. Chavous is a noted attorney, author, and national school reform leader. A former member of the Council of the District of Columbia and a former chairman of D.C.’s Education Committee, Chavous was responsible for enacting numerous education reforms in D.C. Chavous also presides as board chair for Democrats for Education Reform and is a former chair of the Black Alliance for Educational Options.