So I checked out the following HCPSS post today, "Board Seeks Public Input for School System Budget Cuts." I am providing no link as I am not encouraging anyone to take this "survey."
I still don't know precisely who crafted the instrument or if they have a background in public opinion research. A few elements struck me as off. Let's look at what is posted:
Of course this "tool" is not being fielded using a randomized sampling method, it will not yield statistically significant findings that are projectable to a larger population. It is completely based on self-selection. So why bother calling it a survey?
And FYI, COB means different things to different people. 5 pm? 6 pm? 8 pm? Eastern time? Who knows?
Beyond that, the language is leading. They shouldn't be patting themselves on the back in the introductory paragraph, as it injects bias. Even a subtle shift would have helped, something to the effect of, "In accordance with HCPSS' commitment to transparency in its budget process, the Board of Education has developed, etc..." Frankly, the whole transparency claim here is extraneous. It reads like posturing, not the beginning of a research instrument.
Then it goes on to frame the two proposals. It is not a bad idea to provide some context. That said, this introduction appears to praise the BOE request, placing it in the most favorable light, while essentially saying the County Executive's plan would gut education funding in our County.
Careful, and sloppy, readers of this blog know that this author is not a Kittleman supporter. But come on, try to present a more even-handed case for the CE's proposal. Say how it represents $18.1 million more in funding compared to the previous year. You could even ding his plan (factually) for being just slightly above the state's minimum funding requirements, but just saying how it is $50.4 million in proposed cuts is sticking one's thumb on the scale.
Is there a guarantee of respondent anonymity? No. Which should be disconcerting to many. In fact, there is this lovely part of the tool, before the substantive questions appear:
I didn't go any further as I did not want to input my personal information. Frankly, I think the set-up they have is a tremendous disincentive to participate. Perhaps that is what they want, I don't know.
Gathering insights from the community is fine (and appropriate), but trying to use a tool that implies a certain measure of scientific rigor, without actually following proper practices regarding wording and data collection, strikes me as problematic.
Stay tuned, as more will follow.