Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Next CMS leader: Lots of public opinion

Cleaning out paper files for a recent desk shuffle,  I came across reports from the 2005-06 superintendent search that led to Peter Gorman's hiring.  At that time,  Ray and Associates search firm posted an online survey asking people to rate the most important superintendent qualities,  choosing from a list of 32.  They got 2,210 responses,  plus those from  "more than 120 people"  who attended various public meetings in December 2005.

This time around,  the school board and its new firm,  PROACT Search,  will have far more public opinion to work with.  The online survey created by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute got responses from just over 8,800 adults before it closed at midnight Monday,  and more than 500 high school students completed a slightly shorter version.  It's a far more extensive questionnaire,  asking people to rank the most important issues facing CMS and several aspects of what they'd like to see in the leader who succeeds Gorman in 2012.

There's still room to debate the questions,  though.  Gary Pender,  who describes himself as a parent who pulled his kids out because of  "the ridiculous standardized testing CMS instituted last year,"  wonders why neither performance pay nor testing was among the 19 options for top issues  (for those who remain concerned about those issues,  which sparked so much controversy,  "teacher evaluations"  is the closest choice).

"Either the survey is just poorly put together or CMS (or its vendor) has rigged it because this is a phony effort to make it seem like the board wants feedback or suggestions from the community,"  Pender wrote.  "Either way, it makes CMS look bad."

The survey was compiled by the Urban Institute,  with consultation from representatives of other local universities.  Results will be presented at a series of public forums on the superintendent search, slated for the first week of December (no details are set).   "Once the results are made public,  we’ll be making ourselves available as the researchers to answer any questions that anyone has about the data," said Jeff Michael, director of the Urban Institute.  


Christine Mast said...

Gary Pender, I'm clapping for you. Thank you.

Another flaw in the survey, in my humble opinion, was the fact that it did NOT prevent anyone from taking it multiple times.

I even called the head of the project about it, and was told (through a voice mail) that they wanted to allow people, with access to only one computer, the ability to take the survey one time for each person. ???

How will we ever know if some responses weren't duplicated to push through a particular agenda? It's a rhetorical question, as we'll never know that answer.

That survey was never intended to gather useful information from the public, I'm afraid. That's why Pay for Performance/TEP and standardized tests were absent from any choices. And I'm kind of insulted that the powers-that-be don't think anyone's paying attention.

Anonymous said...

My son is taking those silly tests at AK high school this week. He tells me they haven't even covered most of the material on the test yet and he's missing other classes. What a waste of time and money CMS. Go find someone else to be your guinea pigs. Let the kids go to class and learn.

Anonymous said...

Christine, I asked Jeff Michael about the duplication issue. He told me what he told you about not wanting to eliminate multiple family members (or CMS employees using a school computer). He said even if someone filled it out two or three times, that wouldn't make a significant difference when the total gets this large. He said if there are a large number from one computer, especially if they're identical, they could be thrown out.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering why we are not looking at internal people for our next leader. We have a fomer teacher, principal, and current chief academic officer who is invested in our district. She knows how kids learn, she knows how to motivate teachers, and she would be an amazing leader for CMS!