Seattle, remember that push poll that the Broad and Gates backed Alliance for Education did last year just before contract negotiations began between our Broad-trained superintendent and the teachers’ union? There were several interesting comments made about it on the Save Seattle Schools blog last year.

Since then we have discovered that this sort of manufacturing of consent has happened in several parts of the country when the corporate reform groups want to swoop in and takeover schools, turn them into charter schools and bust the teachers’ union so that the charter franchises can then hire cheap labor, many times in the form of Teach for America recruits, to staff their schools.

David Spring, M.Ed., founder of the Fair School Funding Coalition and a Parents Across America, Seattle member, has put together the following Fake/Real poll question sheet. I think that you will find it interesting and remarkably reminiscent of the poll that citizens in Seattle were subjected to by Strategies 360 which was funded by the Alliance for Education.

Dora

Wealthy multinational corporations are using a variety of techniques to manipulate the public into supporting their privatization and destruction of our public schools. One of the techniques they are using is Push Polls – which ask questions more intended to brainwash the public than to get their opinion.

The following are some of the questions they are asking on their Push Polls followed by fairer questions which would expose the propaganda of these corporate pollsters. If we are going to save our public schools, it is important that all parents become more aware of the fact that they are being manipulated into supporting the destruction of our public schools.

Fake Poll Introduction: I am going to read you a list of recommendations suggested by some people for improving our Public Schools and the quality of education they offer. For each one, please tell me if you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the recommended change.

Real Poll Introduction: Hi, I am being paid by the same wealthy corporations who refuse to pay their fair share of State taxes which is why school funding in our State is now 47th in the nation. They are out to privatize our public schools to increase corporate profits. These corporations have written a series of questions carefully designed to manipulate you. So listen carefully and see if you can find the questions in this poll that are pure corporate propaganda.

Fake Poll First Three Questions:
1. Teachers should have increased collaboration time with peers.
74% strongly support, 19% somewhat support. TOTAL SUPPORT: 93%

2. Teachers should have increased classroom preparation time.
72% Strongly support 19% Somewhat support. TOTAL SUPPORT: 92%

3. Our Public Schools should expand its mentoring and coaching programs for teachers.
50% Strongly support 33% Somewhat support TOTAL SUPPORT: 88%

Real First Three Questions:

Corporate Marketers will tell you that the key to manipulating customers into agreeing with you is to begin by getting them to say YES three times. This breaks down their resistance to manipulation and increases the chances you will be able to sell them something they otherwise would not buy. Note that all three of the first questions were non-controversial and intended to draw an affirmative response. Note also that none of the above questions explained where the money would come from to pay for each of the changes mentioned. Here are three questions which more fairly indicate the trade offs of changing our education system:

1. Should we fire some teachers so that schools would have more funds so that our remaining teachers could have increase collaboration time with their peers? 

2. Should we reduce the school day for students by one hour so that teachers could have an additional hour of classroom preparation time?

3. Should we raise the sales tax so that schools would have the funding needed to expand mentoring and coaching programs for teachers?

Fake Poll Propaganda Question #1:  There should be a four-tier teacher performance evaluation scale, as opposed to the satisfactory/unsatisfactory evaluation currently used.
Strongly Support: 42% Somewhat Support: 35% TOTAL SUPPORT: 77%

Real Poll Question #1: There is currently a ten-step teacher performance evaluation which includes multiple observations by peers, principals and administrators as well as numerous written documents that results in a satisfactory/unsatisfactory rating. Should we expand teacher evaluation and reduce teacher time with students in order to change to a four tier teacher performance evaluation scale?

Fake Poll Question #2: Currently in our Schools, principal observations are the primary factor in teacher evaluations. Instead, student academic growth should be used as the primary
factor in teacher evaluations.
Strongly support 28% Somewhat support: 37% TOTAL SUPPORT: 65%

Real Poll Question #2: Currently in our Schools, principal observations are one of many factors used to evaluate teachers. Many studies have shown that student high stakes testing fails to measure actual student growth and has almost no relationship to teacher competency. For example, 30% of the teachers who are in the top third one year are in the bottom third the next year – even though they used the same teaching methods – simply because they have a different group of students. Should we ignore the scientific research on the lack of reliability of high stakes testing and instead use it to fire highly competent teachers?

Fake Poll Question #3: Teacher performance, as opposed to seniority, should be the predominant factor in staffing decisions, including placement, transfers and layoffs.
Strongly Support 52% Somewhat Support: 27% TOTAL SUPPORT: 79%

Real Poll Question #3: Teaching is such a difficult profession that half of all teachers quit within their first five years. Teachers also make far less than those who hold equivalent degrees in the private sector. Should we add unreliable high stakes testing and reduced job security to the long list of obstacles teachers must overcome in order to gain the experience needed to become effective teachers?

Fake Poll Question #4: Currently, the process to remove ineffective teachers can take 18 months or longer. Instead, the lowest performing teachers should be removed in less than 12 months.
Strongly support: 62% Somewhat support: 20% TOTAL SUPPORT: 82%

Real Poll Question #4: Currently union contracts protect teachers by requiring due process and objective evidence before a teacher can be fired. This process typically takes only a few weeks and has been carefully crafted over the years to protect teachers and students and tax payers. Should we eliminate the right of teachers to collective bargaining and expose our teachers to being fired at will?

Fake Poll Question #5: There should be opportunities for increased compensation for teachers based on performance, additional responsibilities, subject matter expertise in hard-to-staff areas
and placement in high-need schools.
Strongly support: 64% Somewhat support: 26% TOTAL SUPPORT: 90%

Real Poll Question #5: Currently we pay teachers based upon factors such as experience and educational training which can be fairly, reliably and objectively measured. Because of individual student differences from year to year and class to class, it is impossible to objectively and reliably measure “teacher performance.” Should we abandon our current objective and fair factors used to pay teachers and replace them with factors which are neither objective nor reliable?

Fake Poll Question #6: The teaching profession should be opened up to attract additional talent, including programs such as Teach for America.
Strongly support: 31% Somewhat support: 29% TOTAL SUPPORT: 60%

Real Poll Question #6: Historically, to receive a Provisional Teachers Certificate to be considered qualified to teach in our public schools, requires 4 to 6 years of training including a 3 month practical experience under the guidance of a currently certified school teacher. Teach for America (TFA) is a program which recruits college graduates with no training in education or child development and gives them 5 weeks worth of “boot camp” training, pays them starvation wages and then tosses them into classrooms. The turn over in this program is extremely high. 90% of these recruits are no longer in the teaching profession 3 years later. Due to billions of dollars in budget cuts during the past three years, we now have thousands of highly qualified teachers with many years of experience who are unemployed. There is no shortage of highly experienced and highly qualified teachers. However there is a financial incentive for school boards to fire highly qualified and experienced teachers and replace them with lower paid TFA recruits. Should we fire highly qualified, highly trained and highly experienced teachers and replace them with poorly paid TFA recruits who have only 5 weeks worth of “training”?

Conclusion

20 years ago, we were told that privatizing our health care system would result in lower costs and better service. Instead, privatization led to skyrocketing cost increases of more than 400%, huge corporate windfall profits, bankrupting small business and local governments while depriving nearly half of all Americans from any kind of health care and causing tens of thousands of needless deaths. Privatization of essential public services is not the solution to our problems – it is the cause of our problems.

This same corporate short-term thinking is now being directed in an extremely well funded attack on our children and our public schools. The focus of this attack is our teachers unions – which historically have been the primary defenders of our public schools. Bring down the unions, destroy the rights of teachers to collective bargaining and the billions of dollars we spend educating our children can be diverted away from schools and into the pockets of wealthy multinational corporations.

The problem with our public schools is not bad teachers. It is a lack of funding caused by the failure to pay taxes by the very same corporations who are now attacking our teachers.  Just one of these corporations (Microsoft) is evading a BILLION dollars per year in State taxes. This is money now being used to fund a campaign to privatize our public schools. These people are now using their windfall profits (our tax payer dollars) to take over our public schools.

To learn more about school funding in Washington State, you can visit the Fair Funding School Coalition and the Real Washington School Budget.

Thanks David, I don’t think that the irony has been lost on us in Seattle regarding Microsoft and Gates.

Dora