Tag Archives: misinformation

Research Shows Information Changes Public Opinion on School Funding

One of the main things my friends here at the Education Policy Center do is to shed light on the public debate with information. It’s good to see in scientific terms that information makes a difference with people’s opinions about important policy issues related to education. The new issue of Education Next highlights the research of University of Chicago Professor William Howell and Brown University Professor Martin West — who tested this idea in the area of whether schools should receive more funding. Here’s a sample of what they learned: The average per-pupil spending estimate from respondents to the 2008 Education Next/PEPG survey was $4,231, and the median response was just $2,000; but for these respondents, local average spending per pupil at the time exceeded $10,000. When told how much the local schools were spending, support for increased spending dropped by 10 percentage points, from 61 percent to a bare majority of 51 percent. Howell and West find that these differences in opinion based on exposure to key information are consistent across a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, views about the local public schools, and political ideologies. “It’s clear that the American public is quite willing to update its views […]


Utahns Quizzed on School Spending

There’s a neat new site you ought to see if you care about public schools: Utah Education Facts. The highlight of the site is a video where they interview average Utahns and ask them questions about the financing and spending of their state’s education system: For those who aren’t from Utah, what if somebody asked you these same sort of questions about your state? How prepared would you be? Of course, the point isn’t to pick on individuals for their knowledge or lack thereof. Instead it highlights the misinformation on which poll-based demands for more education funding largely are based. Ultimately, such a project should aim to arm the populace with more knowledge and information. And isn’t that a major part of what education should be about? Does anyone doubt a similar “man-on-the-street” interview video project here in Colorado would be a good idea? I hope somebody out there is paying attention.