Goucher Poll on Kirwan: More Than Meets the Eye

There’s been a lot of discussion about the Goucher Poll and support of increased funding for education, but we need to take a little closer look at the nuance at all of this. Because as we have discussed with previous Goucher Polls, this poll is like a Transformer: More than meets the eye.

From the Goucher Poll news release:

Respondents were asked whether the state government spends too little, about the right amount,
or too much on public education, public transportation, and roads and highways.

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Public education:
Too little: 70 percent
Right amount: 19 percent
Too much: 6 percent…

…Residents were also asked whether they support or oppose personally paying more in state taxes to improve each of the following in Maryland.

• 74 percent support personally paying more in taxes to improve public education, 26 percent oppose.

While this is something that Democrats and the Teacher’s Union is probably harping, here’s where things get really fun:

While majorities of Marylanders think that the state spends too little on public education and express a willingness to personally pay more in state taxes to improve public education, a large majority—77 percent—have heard or read nothing about the Kirwan Commission. Twenty-two percent have heard or read a little, some, or a lot about Kirwan; 68 percent of those respondents correctly identified the goal of the commission was to “improve public education” and 15 percent thought the goal was to “improve public transportation.”

So let’s recap here. While, according to this poll, 70% of the public thinks we spend too little on education and 74% say they are willing to pay more in taxes to support education, only about 14% of the public knows what the Kirwan Commission is and what it does. That means at most only 14% of Maryland residents know the Kirwan Commission exists and know exactly what these proposed tax increases could mean to Maryland families.

The lack of public knowledge of the Kirwan Commission’s existence

So what is the Goucher Poll ultimately highlighting here?

  • Voters seem to not understand how much money is already spent on public education in Maryland.
  • People support tax increases for public education when there is no context as to how much those tax increases would cost them.
  • The fight over the Kirwan Commission is now inside baseball that people in the know are fighting about but the public has absolutely no idea what it all means and how much it will cost them.

It’s probably one reason why the Maryland State Education Association, who will be getting the biggest handouts from the Kirain Commission funding, is spending half-a-million bucks to run television ads to gin up more support for transferring wealth from taxpayers to union officials. The ad conveniently leaves out a lot of facts, as you would expect:

The Goucher Poll is a convenient, if flawed, snapshot of the discussion on public education. But what we do know is that most Marylanders have no idea what’s actually going on. The Kirwan Commission is being discussed in a vacuum, with the public largely unaware of the consequences of the plan.

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