A week without a study/survey/poll is like a week without… well, that’s not likely to happen so let’s move on. A recent nationwide survey of 699 parents (strange number) found that the respondents liked the idea of No Child Left Behind until it came to the penalty phase. They liked it even less when the penalties were applied to the school attended by their children.

"The level of support melts away significantly when they are asked to consider what this could mean specifically in the context of their child’s school," says Wayne Russum, ORC’s senior research manager. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of NCLB is its high-stakes testing requirement – parents worry that teachers devote precious classroom time to "teaching to the test."

Another hot-button issue is the threat to stop funding or close low-performing schools rather than to devote federal funds toward improving them. Nearly 3 out of 4 parents would oppose cutting federal funds to their children’s school if it were deemed to be failing, and only 13 percent favor linking federal funds to performance.

In some ways the results here parallel the findings of many surveys going back over decades in which people are very critical of public education in general but give high marks to their local schools. I imagine that the parents in this group have heard the generalizations of NCLB by politicians and pundits (who could possibly dislike not leaving any child behind?) but probably only heard details of the penalties required by the law when they were presented by the pollster.

Whether you want to accept the findings of this particular survey or not, remember my rule when it comes to studies, surveys and polls: look at who’s paying the bills. In this case it’s something called Results for America "a campaign of the Civil Society Institute". Never heard of them but from a quick glance at the web site they look like one of those nasty, evil liberal think tanks – as opposed to a public-spirited, honest conservative think tank. Or vice versa.