NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 6, 2005

Each year, Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) releases a poll addressing a variety of educational topics, including school choice and school vouchers, and claims that the public opposes school choice. Many experts have argued against the results and say that the school choice question uses loaded language in order to distort the issue and artificially produce opposition, says the Friedman Foundation.

The question up for debate is: Do you favor or oppose allowing students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public expense?

A nationwide survey of 1,000 American adults, ages 18 or older, were asked either the PDK poll questions or a nearly identical question with just two small changes removing the controversial words -- do you favor or oppose allowing students and parents to choose any school, public or private, to attend using public funds, says the Foundation. The results are shocking:

  • This small wording change produces a 23 point shift in the poll results.
  • Without the controversial question wording, 60 percent of Americans favor school choice, compared to 37 percent using the PDK question.
  • An identical test conducted on last year's PDK poll found that the same change produced a 22 point shift in results.

Our children are counting on us to give them a decent education, or they won't succeed in life; America's parents understand that, and that's why they support school choice by such a large margin, says the Foundation.

Source: Editorial, "New Evidence Calls PDK School Choice Poll into Question," Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation: Education Choice, August 23, 2005; based upon: Lowell C. Rose and Alec M. Gallup, "The 37th Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools," Phi Delta Kappa International, August 2005.


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