Saturday, March 29, 2008

Here's a story for ya - Updated

UPDATED: March 30

Background for those not familiar:
Last year the DOE sent out surveys to teachers, parents and students. In schools where teachers and/or parents were critical, their report card scores were lowered. Predictably, principals have often responded, not by fixing the problems btu by using tactics to make sure the surveys this year are not critical - get teachers to do them en masse, etc. Teachers are afraid these supposed anonymous surveys can be tracked.

This email came in over the transom Friday from one of the best teachers I've known ( I
point this out to show the bullshit has alienated even the best of people.) This is not the first email about teachers being pressured to fill out favorable surveys (I think Unity Must Go made a comment last week). Watch the press buy it hook, line and sinker when Klein says "See how satisfied the teachers and parents are."


Do you know about those surveys we're supposed to complete about our school? Well, my principal was REALLY pissed last year that people didn't rave about the place so she told us a few times during meetings that we had to be very careful with what we write (maybe they should also put some thought into how to run a school if they want a favorable response from us???). OK, so this school year passes, a lot of BS went on as usual, and people are generally disgusted. Now it's time to fill in these questionnaires again. A few weeks ago, the principal wanted us to do the surveys online IN SCHOOL [in return for some perk]. "Why?" when we could do them at home in 5 minutes, but then I realized: they wanted to supervise us so we would have to write what they want!! The other day, they held a meeting and handed out the survey and told teachers to fill them out right there in FRONT of the supervisor!!! The chapter leader, thankfully, was there and protested. The rest of us got them delivered to us shortly thereafter. If it had not been for the CL, we probably all would have been similarly pressured during grade meetings. And most of us would have been afraid to protest because then we get pulled into the office and threatened individually (so there are no witnesses). At a nearby school, the principal told his teachers to fill them out and submit them TO HIM when they were done...

Is there ANY way someone can tell who submitted which responses? I am telling the truth in this survey and don't need to get caught. I am even going to skip the last question asking how many years I've been teaching so there will be NO way to identify me. But there is an id number on each form and how do we know that the administration can't track these down?

On the UFT Grapevine, is there any way people can track down who submits comments? It seems anonymous, but I don't trust anyone (except you, of course). There is a rave review about our school there and the truth needs to be told.


  1. I brought this up last year, the question of anonymity, and people said I was basically overreacting.

    The more minor your subject is, the more they can identify you, espec. if you make any comment that is related to what you teach, or the size of your classes.

    Add that to the numbered forms and the UFT encouraging you to do them online, where they might also be less than safe (the chapter leader memo I just saw says cls should encourage teachers to do them online because it's easier) and you get one big exercise in coercion.

    I didn't fill the survey out last year, and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to fill it out this year either.

    Surveys ask for your opinion, and opinions are free thought. This is, I think, protected in the Consitutution.

    If they put a letter in my file for not filling out an opinion sheet, I'll have to grieve it and perhaps report it to a federal agency or the ACLU.

  2. I will fill it out, just very negatively, as I did last year. I also encouraged my students to write what they really felt, not what the principal wanted them to write.

  3. At my school the parents were told to return their forms to the parent coordinator. The teachers were also told to remind the parents to send their surveys back to school. Fishy stuff.

  4. We had our parent surveys shipped to the school and then required parents to fill it out before teachers would meet with them. All the clusters and most service providers were assigned to hall duty where they supervised the filling out of the surveys. A lot of pressure was placed on parents for good responses. ESL parent surveys were practically filled out for them. The surveys were then collected in the hallways and parents were allowed into their meetings. I can't prove it, but I suspect surveys of known problem parents were likely filed away in the trash bins. Teachers were similarly pressured to fill out their surveys positively. A team of service providers went around and informed us how to fill out the first part about which services we provide in our school. Some of our answers about what services we provide were a bit of a stretch. The joke is the DOE will manipulate all the data to say what they want it to say. My wife is friends with a person who's brother is paid good money to manipulate statistics. You tell him what you want to show and he figures out how to manipulate the #'s to say it. He regularly works for several LI school districts.



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