Friday, October 21, 2016

About that Amendment 1 Poll

The AJC's most recent poll includes a question about the controversial Amendment 1, which gives the state added powers in taking over what it deems to be failing schools. According to the poll:
Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed Opportunity School District has significant opposition just weeks ahead of the Nov. 8 election, according to a new Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll. 
The results released Friday found likely voters siding nearly 2-1 against Amendment 1, the referendum that would create a statewide school district to take over Georgia’s lowest performing schools.
Given the number of television ads against the amendment, this is not surprising. Plus teacher organizations hate it (and apparently have been hit today by an open records request from the governor himself, who of course wants the amendment to pass as it's his baby). There are charges the request is meant to intimidate teacher groups.

But there's another, more nerdy reason, why the amendment has little support in the poll. It's the question wording itself. See, the ballot measure is written in such a way as to make you think the amendment is necessary to save failing schools. But the poll question includes a lot more details. According to the AJC:
The poll question revealed more about the proposal than does the ballot question itself, which has been criticized by opponents as misleading because it does not clearly say that the state would take over schools.
And more specifically, later in the story:
They also say the ballot wording is misleading, since it does not mention that the state would take over schools and local tax dollars. It merely asks whether the state should be allowed to “intervene” in failing schools to improve them.
The poll question contained more context, indicating that supporters say the state would be able to improve student performance and increase flexibility while opponents say passage of the amendment would eliminate local decision-making and add bureaucracy.
So you can see the poll results may very well not reflect the vote on Nov. 8. The added explanatory information in the AJC poll is necessary -- they're not cooking the data -- as most respondents probably have no clue about the amendment itself. Unfortunately for those against the amendment, including teacher groups, the explanation voters will see on the ballot is written in such a way as to encourage it's passage.

My own prediction? A helluva lot closer than what's seen in the poll above, but I think the "teacher" side will win. Barely.

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