A relatively new Stanford University- Associated Press survey is published in today’s Seattle Times in which the main spin presented by the AP is the statistic that 78 percent of respondents say they think bad public school teachers should be easier to fire.
(Not surprisingly, this survey was funded by the Gates Foundation, which is currently obsessed with public school teachers.)
Oddly, the survey was conducted three months ago, on Sept. 23-30, and is only getting released now.
Of course, many of us also believe that bad school superintendents, bad school board members, bad secretaries of education, bad CEOs of banks and corporations that send our national and international economy spiraling into a second Great Depression should also be easier to fire, but no one has surveyed us on that yet.
I’d be curious to know how many respondents could answer the question: What exactly is the process for firing bad teachers? My guess is that most people haven’t a clue what the process is, why it exists, what the responsibilities of school principals are in all this. But the American public has been regaled with the repeated mantra of the ed reformers’ teacher-trashing talking points via the enabling mainstream media that this is a fact, so the public has absorbed it.
Interestingly, though, only 35 percent of respondents believe that “bad teachers” are a significant problem in our public schools. I would agree and add that, even the most rabid ed reformers have failed to prove that we have a rash of “bad teachers” in our schools.
Also, 57 percent believe teachers are underpaid.
And 51 percent believe that teachers should be allowed to strike, even though 80 percent of the respondents have no connection to any type of union.
But it’s when you get to the bottom of the survey that you find some of the most interesting data: a whopping 92 percent of the respondents have no kids under the age of 18 — and possibly no kids at all.
DM7. ARE YOU THE PARENT OR GUARDIAN OF ONE OR MORE CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 18, OR NOT?
BASE: IF NOT PARENT, DK, REF IN Q15 (719)
DON’T KNOW *
And 73 percent of the respondents live in suburban or rural areas.
DM5. WHICH ONE OF THE FOLLOWING BEST DESCRIBES WHERE YOU LIVE?
URBAN AREA 25%
SUBURBAN AREA 41%
RURAL AREA 32%
DON’T KNOW 1%
In other words, these are the opinions of people with either no kids at all or no school-age kids, so they may have no experience with or connection to the subject matter of this survey.
And the majority of these respondents do not live in urban areas — where the greatest concentration of public school populations are located.
But wait — there’s more!
Eighty-four percent of respondents identify themselves as Christian.
Eighty percent are white.
And then there’s this detail: the questionnaire includes “Negro” as a racial category.
What year are we in? 1952?
DM18. WHAT RACE OR RACES DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF TO BE?
BASE: NOT HISPANIC IN DM16 (931)
WHITE, CAUCASIAN 80%
BLACK, AFRICAN-AMERICAN, 13%
AMERICAN INDIAN, ALASKA 2%
ASIAN INDIAN 1%
NATIVE HAWAIIAN *
OTHER ASIAN *
SOME OTHER RACE 4%
DON’T KNOW *
The nation’s largest school districts are located in urban areas, most American children attend public schools, and a large percentage of children in urban public schools are African American. Does this survey in any real way represent the opinions of these families? I’d say no.
(UPDATE: This paragraph has been updated from its original version, modifying my earlier statement that most schools are located in urban centers.)
So is this a fair sampling of an informed public with a stake in public education?
Or something else.
What exactly is the point of this Stanford University, Associated Press, Gates-funded, strangely-skewed-sampling, education survey?
I’m filing this survey under our new tag of “data-schmata.”
Meanwhile, memo to the Seattle Times: In the interest of accuracy, you need to change your headline to:
Poll: Most white, Christian rural and suburban folk with no school-age kids want easier way to fire bad teachers
An overwhelming majority of white, Christian, rural and suburban childless Americans are frustrated that it’s too difficult to get rid of bad teachers, while most also believe that teachers aren’t paid enough, a new strangely sampled poll shows.