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GOP poll shows disdain for student assignment plan

GOP poll shows disdain for student assignment plan

by Joe Arnold


Posted on February 11, 2011 at 12:34 AM

Updated Friday, Feb 11 at 1:11 AM

Two weeks after a survey commissioned by Jefferson County Public Schools showed that 90% of JCPS parents back the district's diversity goal, a new poll commissioned by the Williams/Farmer gubernatorial campaign shows that 84% of Jefferson County Republicans back Williams' plan to scrap the student assignment plan that is designed to meet those diversity goals.

The numbers back up what campaign insiders revealed during the 2010 Louisville mayor's race, that about 70% of all likely voters in Jefferson County were opposed to the student assignment plan.  After Republican Hal Heiner proposed to end the plan, his campaign surged.  Democrat Greg Fischer, who had criticized Heiner for interjecting himself into a school board concern, eventually made fixing the student assignment plan a part of his campaign.

The contrast in the results can be attributed to what pool of people was polled. Neither poll sought the opinion of a cross section of Louisville.  Instead, each was aimed at a core constituency.

The JCPS survey questioned more than 1800 parents of students currently enrolled in the school system.  It did not question non-parents or parents who have pulled their children out of the system.

The Williams/Farmer poll questioned only Republicans, 300 Jefferson County Republicans deemed likely to vote in the May primary.

Despite support for diversity goals in the JCPS survey, only 55% of current parents said they would send their child to a school outside of their neighborhood if that would help the district achieve diversity.  A U of L professor questioned why the poll did not ask parents to prioritize diversity versus student achievement.

In the Williams/Farmer poll, 84% of likely GOP voters said they supported Williams' Neighborhood Schools Bill that was passed by the Senate in January.  The bill would also offer a narrow path toward charter schools.

A polling memo by pollster Brian Gottlieb indicates that 73% of the bill's supporters said they “strongly support” it.

“You rarely see this much intensity about anything in a survey,” Gottlieb said in the release. “This tells me that Louisville Republicans are very upset about the student assignment plan and that they are strongly behind David Williams’ neighborhood schools bill.”

Here is the question asked of Jefferson County Republican voters:

Senate President David Williams sponsored legislation that would allow
parents to enroll their children in the neighborhood school closest to
their home, and it would also create voluntary charter schools to give
parents, teachers, and local communities more education options. Williams
says he strongly opposes the Jefferson County Public Schools student
assignment plan, and filed this legislation to fix it. Based on what you
know, do you support or oppose this proposal? (IF ANSWERED ASK:) And do you
strongly (SUPPORT/OPPOSE), or somewhat (SUPPORT/OPPOSE) this proposal?

1 Strongly support 73%
2 Somewhat support  11%
3 Somewhat oppose 3%
4 Strongly oppose 7%
5 Don't know (DNR)   6%
6 Refused (DNR)   -