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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

MPS Poll Raises More Questions Than It Answers

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Technically, it doesn’t sound like a push poll. But at least one person who picked up the phone said the simple questions about Milwaukee Public Schools made her “uncomfortable.”

The survey-taker asked three questions: How would you rate Milwaukee Public Schools; do you hold current school board members responsible for the extremely low graduation rates; and who do you support in April’s election, MPS Board President Peter Blewett or his challenger, ReDonna Rodgers?

Milwaukee resident Patricia Stevenson said the questions were misleading and directed at Blewett. “You can’t blame a school board for low graduation rates,” Stevenson said. “There are a lot of different factors.”

Even stranger, the pollster claimed to be from “Dell Research Group.” When one person asked who paid for the poll, he got the response “I don’t know.” Another poll-taker claimed that Blewett paid for it himself, which is false.

State law requires that a pollster must disclose the entity that paid for the poll. Keith Bailey, an organizer with the ReDonna Rodgers campaign, said that the campaign financed the poll. “We paid for the poll,” Bailey said. “We’re primarily identifying voters. That’s all that we have to say.”

Bailey didn’t explain why the poll-takers didn’t admit that Rodgers’ campaign paid for the poll. “I’ve got my hands full here,” he said. This isn’t the first time that Blewett’s been targeted on the phones.

Blewett’s opponent, ReDonna Rodgers, has the backing of the Advocates for Student Achievement (ASA), a pro-voucher, antiunion group that admitted to sponsoring an anti-Blewett push poll earlier this year. But John Parr, who serves on the executive committee of ASA, said his organization did not commission the most recent poll.

Blewett said he can understand why he’s a target. He said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has become a foe because he didn’t sign on to Barrett’s plan to fix the school funding flaw. Blewett preferred a different approach, claiming that Barrett’s idea would have done nothing for MPS.

Blewett added that he’s been targeted by the business community—Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), in particular—because he has been fighting for more corporate income tax transparency so that state legislators can have an accurate picture of state revenues when crafting the budget.

To read a Q&A with Blewett, go to www.expressmilwaukee.com.

What’s your take?

Write: editor@shepex.com or comment on this story online at www.expressmilwaukee.com.