Acronyms are typically considered a relatively modern etymological innovation. Take the word RADAR: RAdio Detection And Ranging was invented in 1941, but linguistics experts consider the use of first letters or first syllables in lieu of the whole word or phrase to be a lot older. They point to the alphabet which was invented as a derivation from the first two Greek letters.
The better acronyms today have a touch of humor to them: there's YUPpie, for Young Urban Professional, MAEPie for Middle-Aged Exurban Professional, or DINK households (Dual Income No Kids). There's also NIMBY for Not In My Back Yard, and BANANA for Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything-both descriptive of attitudes frequently displayed by Yuppies, Maepies, and Dinks.
In the modern world of computing, WYSIWG was briefly popular as a short-cut for What You See Is What You Get, also known as the "print-screen" command.
In the modern world of opinion polling, there ought to be WYSIWYWS for: What You See Is What You Wanna See. Case in point: the recently released results of a survey asking for opinion from a Vermont population sample on various aspects of education.
Economist Milton Friedman and his spouse Rose set up the-what else?-Friedman Foundation for the study of education, primarily focused on the public system with a pro-school-choice focus. Together with the local school-focused Vermonters for Better Education, the Friedmans commissioned a modest study (1,200 respondents) with the help of the Atlanta-based polling outfit Strategic Vision.
A VBE news release spans the opinion divide between those who think Vermont's K-12 system is remarkably superior to efforts elsewhere and those who think it isn't: "A plurality of Vermonters believe their public schools are good or excellent, but nearly nine out of ten would send their children to private, charter, or virtual schools, or educate them in a home setting."
Here are the actual numbers for citizen-parent-taxpayer responses to the question, "If you could select any type of school, what type of school would you select in order to obtain the best education for your child?":
Private school 44 percent (church or secular).
Charter school 26 percent (public but with extra management discretion).
Public 11 percent (public with the standard K-12 objectives).
Virtual 2 percent (on-line to students at home or in classrooms).
There was a margin-of-error of 3 percent , so the 17 percent non-answer group doesn't matter much.
Note that responses which prefer other-than-standard-public-schools add to 72 percent.
Another part of the survey finds that 44 percent rated the public schools as good or excellent, 41 percent as fair or poor", and 15 percent undecided. A theoretical tie if you consider the 3 percent MOE.
Under the principle of WYSIWYWS, you can choose to find in the 44 percent plurality a basis for the "...Vermonters believe their public schools are good or excellent..." line. You can also find something else: a fairly substantial level of discontent-not so much, any more-with cost, from which a clear majority of property-taxpaying home-owners has now been seemingly insulated by the income-sensitivity provisions of Acts 60 and 68-but with actual academic-achievement results.
In politics, 72 percent is a landslide majority and that's the percentage of respondents who'd prefer to spend their school-tax money elsewhere than in their typical neighborhood public school!
When you look at the answers to the questions, "If you could select any school...", you face an 11 percent public-school preference versus a 72 percent anything-but-public preference, even before you apply your WYSIWYWS view-finders. That's a percentage usually described as marginal versus a percentage usually described as overwhelming!
I suspect, but can't prove, that the 44 percent who find the public schools to be "good or excellent" is made up to large extent of those who are old enough that they personally recall better days in public education or those who have achieved empty nest status (no kids in school any more) and those who have school-age kids but pay extra to send them elsewhere.
The latter group noted above includes public school teachers and administrators who know, first-hand, what some poll-analysts don't know: that WYSIWYG actually trumps WYSIWYWS in real life.
Former Vermonter Martin Harris lives in Tennessee.