How to Choose a Terrible Poll Question

Buried in Quinnipiac’s new poll of New York City’s mayoral race is this poor excuse for a question about education policy:

Mayor Bloomberg wants to close a number of low performing public schools and replace them. Which comes closer to your point of view; this is good educational policy, or this is an attack on the teacher’s union?

Really Quinnipiac? What if I don’t believe either of those things? Or both of them? That’s like a pollster asking “Do you support Obamacare, or do you think it’s sticking it to conservatives who don’t want the government involved in the health insurance market? At least Qunnipiac had the decency to make it the last education question so it didn’t bias all the other answers.

On a somewhat related note, Joe Williams (the director of Democrats for Education Reform) has a good column in the NY Daily News about the intellectually dishonest and conflicting positions of New York City’s largest teachers union.

After months of unsuccessfully trying to halt the closures, after falsely complaining that the city’s sole education policy boils down to closing schools, the UFT’s lawyers are suddenly shifting gears.

The lawsuit filed Monday argues that what the city is doing isn’t actually closing schools at all, and therefore — based on the teachers’ contract — these schools ought to still be run according to a host of contractual rules and procedures that don’t give the chancellor power to do much of anything.

In their legal papers, the UFT’s legal eagles use terms like “sham closure” and “supposed closings.” They claim that rather than being closed, these schools will instead be undergoing a kinder, gentler type of school turnaround effort that must be governed by language in their contract.

That’s utterly ridiculous, and even the union seems to know it. All the while, UFT President Michael Mulgrew is sticking to his old talking points. At Monday’s news conference announcing the suit, Mulgrew claimed that the only thing the mayor had learned in 10 years on the job was how to close schools, significantly undercutting his own lawyers’ case.

Did you catch that? The UFT hates Bloomberg’s policies because all he does is close schools, but turnaround schools shouldn’t allowed to let teachers go because the schools aren’t actually going through anything that’s remotely like a closing.

If you’re wondering why I consider myself firmly entrenched in the anti-anti-education reform camp, it because of shit like this.


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