Thursday, July 12, 2012

Spin on Voucher Applications

Lance Hill of the Southern Institute for Education and Research has a slightly different take about the success of the new Jindal voucher program than that of the Baton Rouge Advocate.

State Superintendent John White and the Education Department announced yesterday in a press release that over 10,300 applications for vouchers had been received this year. This was presented as a major success of the program. Last year, there were about 2,000 vouchers that had been limited to the New Orleans area. This year because of the new Jindal voucher law, students attending any public school rated “C” or lower became eligible to apply for a voucher to a private school.

So the Baton Rouge Advocate, taking its cue from Superintendent White led its article on vouchers with the enthusiastic headline:
Voucher demand soars
followed by the Sub head:
10,000 ask to attend new school

The Advocate article goes on to gush about how the voucher applications this year are well above initial estimates.

But the New Orleans Times Picayune which is usually also favorable to the Jindal reforms did a little more digging and found out that there were really less than 9,000 new applications because over a thousand of the applications this year are from students that were already attending the New Orleans voucher schools. So the Advocate was a little bit inaccurate in its reporting of the figures about the number of students wanting to change schools, and I believe totally misleading to its readers by using its headline to promote the spin put out by Superintendent White.

Lance Hill looked at this from a slightly different angle. He started with the number of students and parents who were notified by the State that they were eligible to apply for a voucher and compared it to the number who actually applied and found the percentage of parents who were interested in vouchers. So Lance compared the 9,000 new applications with the 450,000 students who were now eligible to apply and came up with the following suggested headline:
98% of parents say no to vouchers

This just demonstrates how the media can be willingly sucked into the spin on the news generated by the pro-voucher Jindal administration. I think The Advocate editors should be ashamed!

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Sure they should.

Did you see that you and Lance were mentioned in a blog Diane Ravitch wrote today? Good work!