Pelham Schools Survey: Somewhat Disagree

Join me as I take the Pelham Public Schools survey. Pelham, New York is a suburb just north of New York City. The Board of Education and the District Strategic Planning Committee would like input to inform a new strategic plan. The survey is wide open to all, and you can take it as many times as you would like.

The instructions say, “…please feel free to take as many of these surveys that apply to you or take them multiple times for each child. “

While the survey is a genuine gesture toward community engagement, the method and the questions themselves make me wonder if the results will be, well, worthless.

Clearly, some people worked very hard on this, and I’ll assume goodwill. What’s most troubling is the consumerization of a public resource. The questions are framed as if public school is a product, and the deliverable is customer satisfaction. As if a district strategic plan is like a software feature release.

Public education has many purposes – preparing people to participate in society, preserving class structure, and you can fill a library with more objectives. In any event, the verdict on whether it’s working is impossible to capture on a Likert scale, and the jury should not comprise all people with a keyboard, regardless.

For those of you in the “Well, what is your suggestion?” crowd, I have a few:
1/ A single survey, not 9 surveys.
2/ Require authentication, and select a random sample.
3/ Max 7 to 10 questions, not 58.

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