Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Best Lies Money Can Buy

Remember a couple of months ago when the Broad Foundation and the Gates Foundation teamed up to form a $60 million public relations campaign? What that money is being spent on is now coming out.

First there was the "study" by ETS that claimed the majority of Americans are in favor of NCLB. Here is the "question" they used to get those results:
“The No Child Left Behind Act provides federal funds for school districts with poor children in order to close achievement gaps. It also requires states to set standards for education and to test students each year to determine whether the standards are being met by all students. In addition, No Child Left Behind provides funding to help teachers become highly qualified. It also provides additional funding and prescribes consequences to schools that fail to achieve academic targets set by their state. Based on this statement and anything else you may have heard, would you say that you have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion of the No Child Left Behind Act?”

For a great in-depth analysis see Schools Matter.

Now comes a new "study" from the Hoover Institution gleefully claiming they got the same results. No big surprise, they used basically the same question:
As you may know, the No Child Left Behind Act requires states to set standards in math and reading and to test students each year to determine whether the standards are being met. This year, Congress is deciding whether to renew the No Child Left Behind Act. What do you think Congress should do?

For a good laugh, here's the "alternate" version:
As you may know, federal legislation requires states to set standards in math and reading and to test students each year to determine whether the standards are being met. This year, Congress is deciding whether to renew this federal legislation. What do you think Congress should do?

I would like to propose a new question for the next study. What kind of results do you think they'd get with this one:
"As you know, the No Child Left Behind Act represents the largest federal intrusion onto states' rights in the history of the United state, is most likely unconstituional, allows the federal govt. to mandate 100% of what is being taught in schools while only picking up 7% of the cost, and is opposed by over 80% of current and former educators, do you think Congress should renew this federal legislation?

I haven't tweaked any of the "experts" over at Joanne Jacobs in awhile. I think I'll go drop this question on them.

6 comments:

DrPezz said...

Writing an honest, effective, and even-handed survey is an art, in my humble opinion. However, it seems as though in our "data-driven age", the data is collected to simply reinforce a prior desire.

We have a proposal to completely change the structure of my high school because about 10% of the kids are "struggling" on the state test (meaning they won't pass it no matter the intervention). Over 80% of the staff voted against the change, but one teacher decided to try and slip a survey to kids and parents with questions much like you presented: they elicit the desired response.

I absolutely love your reframed question! Keep it up!

Mike said...

Indeed. Tweaking educational "experts" is also one of my favorite passtimes.

Regarding NCLB, TAKS, etc., I need ask and answer only one question: "Does any aspect of these political fixes in any way help me to teach better or my students to learn more effectively?" It's hard to fathom how any self-aware teacher could answer other than "no." I never bother to get into this question: "Could I use the untold million spent on NCLB, TAKS, etc. more effectively in teaching?"

100 Farmers said...

Brilliant, sir, brilliant.

Repairman said...

Great satire, Mike. It's a damned shame when supposedly neutral surveyors are guilty of propagandizing the survey sample.

I agree heartily that the feds have no business complicating our lives with education legislation, especially lousy legislation that is just a mask for school privatization.

We're hostages to the federal buck. I'd like to tell them to put the money where the sun never shines and do the job without them. (Not sure that's entirely practical, but that's how I feel about it.)

Keep tweaking those experts!

Polski3 said...

HEEHEE.

Sarah Amick said...

My favorite part of the first quote was that they give teachers funding to help them become highly qualified. It makes them sound like they are just standing around passing out all that extra money just for the teachers! Ha! I think I can stand in my classroom and see the money just dwindling while I keep buying more and more for my students. What a farce!