The Senate Education Committee held a public hearing on SB3, the “FakeESA” school choice bill, on March 21st. The committee listened to ten hours of testimony from both supporters and detractors of the bill; Included amongst those who testified were Jeremy Newman and Tim Lambert from Texas Homeschool Coalition (THSC). THSC has worked all this legislative season to convince our legislators that they can speak for all homeschoolers in Texas and has done so through what can only be described as dubious means. In its latest effort to obfuscate the truth, THSC conducted a phone push poll through a third party company, Ragnar Research Partners, who called some Texas homeschoolers and asked questions that were clearly biased toward getting a response of being pro-ESAs. We are aware that many folks who were called by this company did not respond to the poll questions; many were given nebulous answers when they challenged the caller on who they were and who was behind the poll. Needless to say, it sounds like the poll did not go well and we can only assume the quantitative results were less than accurate. But that didn’t seem to deter THSC who included their poll “results” during their testimonies to senate committee members on Tuesday. They stated that 71% of homeschoolers support ESA’s. Listen to that testimony by Lambert and Newman here.
Here are 3 reasons why that poll was bogus.
1. You couldn’t possibly know that 71% of ALL homeschoolers support ESAs. There is no real data on how many homeschool families there are in Texas. Ragnar Research Partners certainly didn’t call all of them to ask what they thought of ESAs. Ragnar can say that of those who completed the poll, 71% said they support ESAs. But that would also be biased, because you have no idea how many responded. What if 7 people answered out of the 1000 that were called? Now you’re missing the qualitative data that could say a majority of your responders were so offended by the poll they refused to participate, so the 71% result could mean nothing.
2. The questions were biased – When you ask someone whether they support having savings accounts made up of your own tax money set aside for their child’s education, who wouldn’t agree to that? But that’s not what this ESA is. It’s a taxpayer subsidy of OTHER PEOPLE’s money, not your own. So again, that quantitative data is meaningless if 71% of those polled agreed with your skewed questions. 29% still DISAGREED with supporting ESAs. What that poll data really says is that 71% of those who agreed to answer your question support a version of education savings accounts. (Disclosure: To date, we have not seen the poll results, all of its questions, or any of the data related to the poll like how many people participated vs. how many were called. We don’t believe that information has been made public by THSC or Ragnar.)
3. Who supplied the polling company with the names and contact information of homeschoolers? We have been told that THSC commissioned the poll. Did THSC give your information to a third party? Did you agree to have your information shared?
COMMITTEE RESULT: The committee voted today to move the SB3 committee substitute out of committee to the senate floor for consideration. We have not yet seen what the substitute bill looks like. The committee votes were as follows:
Sen. Larry Taylor – YES
Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. – YES
Sen. Paul Bettencourt – YES
Sen. Donna Campbell – YES
Sen. Bob Hall – YES
Sen. Don Huffines – YES
Sen. Bryan Hughes – YES
Sen. Kel Seliger – NO
Sen. Van Taylor – YES
Sen. Carlos Uresti – NO
Sen. Royce West – NO
Call your senators and reps and tell them NO to SB3!