The American Federation of Teachers released a new survey this week, “Public School Parents and the Promise of Public Education,” that claims many things. But most important to school choice supporters, it says the vast majority of parents prefer traditional public schools and are opposed to educational options.
The quality of any survey is heavily dependent upon the methodology applied and, of course, the questions asked. AFT and the firm that did its survey, Hart Research Associates, condensed their findings in a short memo that’s worth reading.
The memo suggests the survey question about vouchers may be misleading participants by directing them along a predetermined path. For example, participants were asked to choose the better of two education approaches. Take a look at the language below (from page 6):
Approach A) We should focus on ensuring that every child has access to a good public school in their community. We need to make the investments needed to ensure all schools provide safe conditions, an enriching curriculum, support for students’ social and emotional development, and effective teachers.
Approach B) We should open more public charter schools and provide more vouchers that allow parents to send their children to private schools at public expense. Children will receive the best education if we give families the financial freedom to attend schools that meet their needs.
Not surprisingly, 77 percent of survey participants chose Approach A.
There are a few glaring problems.