In the continuing quest to gauge what the public really thinks about the federal No Child Left Behind Act, two recent polls offer conflicting accounts.
A mid-October survey of registered voters by a Republican polling firm finds evidence that support is “strong and growing.”
But the law “fared very poorly with both the black and general populations,” according to the findings of another poll of adults conducted in September and October for a think tank that focuses on black issues.
The federal education law championed by President Bush has become a focal point for debate in elections both for Congress and the White House.
“The No Child Left Behind Act’s emphasis on high standards and accountability is a big winner among African-Americans, Hispanics, and parents with children in public schools—and thus it’s a big winner for President Bush,” said Marc Lampkin, the executive director of Americans for Better Education, a Washington group that commissioned the report by the GOP polling firm.
Of the 1,000 voters surveyed, 58 percent said they had a “favorable” impression of the law, compared with 28 percent who had an unfavorable view. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The survey sponsored by the Washington-based Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies asked voters to rate the No Child Left Behind program as excellent, good, fair, or poor.
Of 850 African-Americans surveyed, 67 percent called it either fair or poor, compared with 23 percent who said it was good or excellent. The law enjoyed somewhat more favorable ratings among a general population of 850 adults: Fifty-six percent called it fair or poor, and 32 percent excellent or good.
In both cases, the rest said they didn’t know. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.