Tag Archives: public debate

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 […]

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Deconstructing Arne Duncan and the Release of the D.C. Voucher Program Study

I’ve pointed out to you the sad story of national education officials ignoring the positive results from the D.C. voucher program as they let the ax fall on opportunity for some very needy kids. The Wall Street Journal raised serious questions about the complicity of Education Secretary Arne Duncan in hiding the results so Congress could go ahead with shutting down the program. Questioning Duncan directly, the Denver Post‘s David Harsanyi pressed the issue further, finding that the Secretary’s story on one important count didn’t match the record: When I had the chance to ask Duncan — at a meeting of the Denver Post editorial board on Tuesday — whether he was alerted to this study before Congress eradicated the D.C. program, he offered an unequivocal “no.” He then called the WSJ editorial “fundamentally dishonest” and maintained that no one had even tried to contact him, despite the newspaper’s contention that it did, repeatedly. When I called the Wall Street Journal, I discovered a different — that is, meticulously sourced and exceedingly convincing — story, including documented e-mail conversations between the author and higher-ups in Duncan’s office. The voucher study — which showed progress compounding yearly — had been around […]

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