Education and opinion polls

Do you ever hear the results of an opinion poll and think to yourself, how could that possibly be true?  A recent poll conducted about funding for education will answer that question.

If you recall, when signing the debt ceiling compromise this week, the President once again insisted that we need to spend more money on education.  This week, Education Next released the results of a poll concerning that subject, which the President will no doubt refer to in support of his position.  However, when you hear him say that the American public overwhelming favors more spending on education, know that the President is being selective in what he tells you.

When the question asked was, “do you think we should spend more money on education”, 65% of responders said “yes”.

When the question asked was, “we currently spend $13,000 per student on education.  Do you think we should spend more”, only 49% of responders said “yes”.

But, when the question asked was:

Do you think that taxes to fund public schools around the nation should increase, decrease or stay about the same?” [emphasis supplied],

only 35% supported an increase in taxes to fund education.  Curiously, only 28% would be willing to have their taxes increased to spend more on education.

So there is the nation’s debt crisis in a nutshell. If people aren’t told that nearly $13,000 is currently being spent per pupil, or if they aren’t reminded that there is no such thing as a free lunch, they can be persuaded to think schools should be spending still more.

Just think about that the next time the President says that the polls reflect that Americans want to spend more on this or that.  Your first thought should be, “what was the question”.


11 replies
  1. winnie888
    winnie888 says:

    Figures lie, liars figure…whenever it comes to poll results I always want to know how the questions are phrased to participants.? I also want to know who is doing the poll & what their possible angle could be.? Let’s face it, an organization looking to increase spending for education is going to phrase the questions to get the desired results.? In the end, opinion polls mean little in the whole scheme of things unless, of course, policy is made based on them.

  2. GdavidH
    GdavidH says:

    ?Opinion polls are what keep politicians in business. That said, are we happy about the business we are getting from politicians?

    ?On the education issue, I would love to see that?any more funding for education be?dedicated specifically to the educatees. Saying we spend $13,000 per student is misleading, considering the largest part of any school budget always seems to be?teachers and administration?salaries and benefits?.

  3. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Aside from the obvious, i.e. there is a large spread in the expenditures/pupil among different states and municipalities, so the $13,000/pupil figure does not reflect the cost of living among the states/municipalities,? I wonder how one would dedicate the funding (additional or not) to the educatees. Bonuses, scholarships, field trips?

  4. GdavidH
    GdavidH says:

    Really Sammy?

    ?First, everyone knows that # is an average.?I have in the past noted the higher cost per pupil in Hartford over Simsbury as an example. Where would you rather send your child?
    ?Second, What’s the first thing that gets cut when a budget cut?( Or lack of increase) occurs in any district? It ain’t salaries or benefits. Thanks to the power of the union, doin’ it all for the kids, those are usually last. No…?It’s always arts or sports or tech centers or text books?etc. The things that benefit the “educatees”. Bonuses? Scholarships??Really? That stuff is for private schools.

    ?I do have to admit that I would support merit pay for outstanding teachers. As long as it did not go to all teachers, like the bogus merit pay attempts we’ve been seeing lately, and as long as crappy or lazy teachers faced?a real threat of dismissal. I had twins graduate HS this year. Believe me, it is not at all difficult to know the difference. It’s actually kind of pathetic.

  5. Plainvillian
    Plainvillian says:

    Clarification:? It’s $13,000 per student per year – that’s $169,000 per student through high school.?
    Question:? Is this a bargain for graduates with questionable knowledge and non-existent life/job skills beyond preparation for overpriced, dysfunctional colleges?

  6. joe_m
    joe_m says:

    Be careful with figures. I have no doubt that the average is $13,000 per student, however, you need to break that figure down to regular students and special needs students.

    The cost for special needs students is 2 to 4 times higher than regular students, so the average student only see about $4,000 of that $13,000 average. I will not go into the politics of special needs students but we need to remove the federal government from education (and the state and the admistrators). Let teachers teach.

  7. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    I just read a Cato Institute report 2010 that said that the average per pupil cost in Phoenix was $12K/year and $27K/year in NYC. Asking questions in a poll w/o a reference to “reality”, like where one lives, invites conclusions all over the map. joe_m above makes a valid point on special needs students, which is also glossed over.

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      Special needs students should be a separate issue.
      Maybe we should talk about how the cost per student is diluted by the students that go to private schools and whose parents still have to pay the local school taxes.? Double taxation?

  8. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    Sammy, great points. I also would point out that when my sister taught at Middle School in New Britain a fair amount of money was spent on metal detectors? and having lock-ins on a regular basis. Difficult to educate under these circumstances no matter what the cost per student turned out to be.

  9. JollyRoger
    JollyRoger says:

    If? you think education is a boondoggle, just wait until we get into single payer healthcare!? We’ll spend $14,000 per citizen, and it’ll be twice as much here and half as much there, and it’ll be the tower of babel with studies and opinions…? Divided we fall- it’s the only thing Washington does right!

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