(submitted in response to the Plain Dealer's December 11, 1999 editorial "Fuzzy on the Details")
December 11, 1999
The title of the Saturday, December 11, 1999 Plain Dealer editorial, “Fuzzy on the details” more aptly describes your editorial staff than Ohio’s residents in general.
The subhead mocks Ohioans for having “plenty to say in poll on schooling, if only they knew what they were talking about.” The most recent Ohio Poll showed that education is the greatest concern of our state’s residents. But according to your editors, “[this] concern hasn’t translated into much learning about the subject.” They cite the fact that more than two-thirds (67%) of residents have not heard or read about Ohio’s charter schools and your editors find this high figure “baffling.”
While 43% of those aware of charter schools thought that they provide a higher quality of education than public schools, the majority (57%) thought that charter schools provide either the same or a lower quality education (34% and 10% respectively) or had not yet made up their minds (13%). College graduates were the group most likely to be aware of charter schools at 60%. Of those college graduates aware of these schools, 43% thought that the quality of education was the same as at public schools. Only 25% thought that the quality of education at charter schools was higher. In addition, college graduates were at least four times more likely than those with little or no college education to say that charter schools provide a lower quality of education. The poorest and the richest in the group of those aware of charter schools were more likely to say that charter schools provide the same quality of education as public schools even though awareness seems to increase with income (from 29% among households earning less than $20,000 to 46% among households earning more than $60,000).
The more one seems to know about charter schools, one seems to be less inclined to think that they do a better job of educating our students than public schools. The omission of these statistics is what I find truly “baffling.” The editorial criticized that “like the politicians who represent them, Ohioans don’t let a lack of information stop them from forming opinions about options [in education].” Nor do the newspaper editors who claim to inform us.
Milton Alan Turner