Thursday, September 25, 2008

[LCSD] Concerned Parent Questionnaire

Lebanon Truth hits the two main problems with the concerned parent questionnaire. The first: of the fundamental polling principles is that you need to question a representative sample in order to obtain useful data.

Even if the people behind the questionnaire tried to do this, there's no guarantee they'd be successful in finding a representative sample - especially with the lack of demographic questions on the questionnaire itself.

Of course, I would be amazed if there was even an attempt to distribute the questionnaire to a broad cross-spectrum of people. Instead, I suspect it will be distributed organically - which means it will fall disproportionately into the hands of people who are already pissed, skewing the results significantly.

The second:

Polling questions are supposed to be neutral on their face...

Many of the questions in the questionnaire are not anything even remotely resembling neutral; instead, they are rather leading. Given that, there is no way this is anything resembling a statistically valid survey.

One point that LT does not address is that surveys should be on a single topic or themed. Even broadly construed, this questionnaire is all over the map, addressing questions about the Superintendent, the LHS Principal, teachers in general, the high school math program, and more. This is a problem, as this is not a comprehensive survey of all things LCSD.

Given who is likely to fill it out, I would not be surprised if (a) the results of the questionnaire are very anti-Robinson and anti-Finch, and (b) individuals who are anti-Robinson and anti-Finch wave them triumphantly and claim they are evidence for something, regardless of their validity. Don't get me wrong - there will be great anecdotal evidence that comes out of the questionnaire. But anecdotes are, by definition, single instances of something, and not useful on a macro level.

I do think that some form of more neutral polling or a survey around similar issues and questions in the LCSD would be interesting. I don't think there is money floating around for it, however.

Oh, and as for the questionnaire itself? Check it out:


Roxy said...

"individuals who are anti-Robinson and anti-Finch wave them triumphantly and claim they are evidence for something, regardless of their validity

Yeah, that's the dangerous part about this survey thing.

These parents are so mad though, they need to vent before they can focus on coming together to solve the problem and they have not had that opporunity yet. In fact, they probably feel like they've been robbed of that opportunity (first math meeting when they were broken up into small groups, but came to it expecting to ask questions). I liken this to that Baro controversy years ago where that columnist implied blacks look up to R Kelly, etc. Remember how pissed that crowd was? (Probably yourself included) I went to the public forum where the editor apologized and then the angry crowd asked questions of her. After that though people actually came together to review some sort of policy and try and understand why that happened.

Anyway, the point is these parents are way mad and they need to vent before they can even focus on finding a solution. That's my two cents.

Anonymous said...

Ok- So I just erased my response to this three times. The survey is a joke. I laughed outloud when I read some of the "questions".
Roxy is right-many parents are angry and do need to be heard and have their feelings validated. Listening and validating feelings is a pretty basic strategy when people are upset. Parents are panicked too. Especially this group who's kids have been guinea pigs almost since day one.
I could go on, but as I said, I have already erased several responses.
The bottom line is that the us vs them attitude ON BOTH SIDES needs to go bye bye or nothing will get resolved.

Anonymous said...

I left this on LT's blog, but it stands here also (except for the hypocritical part, Dennis, as you were opposed to the LT attack on Laura)

"You mean the parents don't have all the information? Well maybe they would have if the district would have given it to them. Maybe if the parents would have gotten their questions answered by the district instead of being stonewalled. When the district won't open up, the parents are bound to think the worst.

I love how you are fully capable of slamming Laura, but when a teacher gets dumped on, people need to be nicer and understand. You are amazingly hypocritical. You probably won't print this comment either, just like mine from the other day."

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