Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Survey SAYS....

We just received a nebulous message from our principal about the upcoming surveys. I suppose what he wanted to say was, "Write only good things, please," but he was constrained by instructions not to say such things:

Guidelines on the Education Department Web site stress that principals should "avoid even the appearance" that they are trying to sway survey answers.

"Schools may not attempt to influence responses," spokeswoman Maibe Gonzalez-Fuentes said. "Most of our principals have done an excellent job communicating to parents and teachers the importance of using the survey to express their honest opinions about their schools."

But not all, it appears:

"Positive survey results contribute to additional funding for our school," Public School 115 Principal Mitchell Pinsky wrote in a March 10 memo. "Positive survey results also help us to maintain our A rating."

Well, I suppose the principal is right. On the other hand, if the results are false, they enable the city, which awarded an A to a school the state classified as "persistently dangerous," to ignore even more problems than it's currently ignoring. Where will the chancellor and his minions even find time to ignore that many problems?

Still, other principals are urging people to write positive things, and using implied threats to do so:

A letter stapled to surveys sent home with students at PS 114 in Brooklyn warns about the steep budget cuts facing schools next year and spells out programs that could be threatened.

"By answering this survey, you could be instrumental in supporting our current programs and saving our school from these budget cuts," Principal Maria Pena-Herrara wrote.

That's certain to encourage parents to openly state their concerns, I suppose. Last year's surveys showed the number one concern of parents was class size. In a brave effort to obscure that concern, Klein's minions conflated two other issues, thus enabling the board to continue to ignore the largest class sizes in the state. Why they bother to solicit opinions they plan to ignore, of course, is a mystery for the ages.

My advice to teachers? Write whatever you wish. The chancellor cares about your opinions even less than he cares about those of the parents.

Thanks to Schoolgal
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