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A poll's real learning curve

August 9, 2011 - John D'Agostino
Should we — the United States — be spending more on education?

According to Education Next, an educational research journal, 65 percent of the public says yes while another 35 percent say it should be cut or stay at current levels.

But the poll takes a turn when the question is asked a second time — and those surveyed are told the current spending per student is nearly $13,000. At this time, Paul E. Peterson, a Harvard University professor notes in the Aug. 5 Wall Street Journal, "only 49 percent said they want to pony up more dollars."

"So there is the nation’s debt crisis in a nutshell," Peterson wrote. "If people aren’t told that nearly $13,000 is currently being spent per pupil, or if they aren’t reminded that there is no such thing as a free lunch, they can be persuaded to think schools should be spending more."

That "free lunch" philosophy, Peterson notes, ignores reality, which "also leads to bigger debts."

Sound familiar, Chautauqua County?


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