Glossy Propaganda And The Need To Add Questions To The Working Conditions Survey

If you have not noticed the abundance of glossy fliers that teachers are passing around to students all over the state at the behest of Mark Johnson, then you are in the minority.

One of them pertains to encouraging students to consider teaching as a career when they enter the workforce.

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Almost all of the information on this flier can be debunked and needs to be corrected with full context, but there is one particular item that this post will focus on : “9 out of 10 North Carolina teachers say that their school is a good place to work and learn.”

That information comes from looking at data from the NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey for the Department of Public Instruction.

The survey happens once every two years, yet last year’s was the first one with Mark Johnson as the state superintendent. It became such a crusade for him to get every teacher to participate in this survey that he issued a “sweet” incentive: if we as a state got %95 of teachers to complete the survey and were the top state as far as participation percentages are concerned, Mark Johnson said he would compete in the Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh the next year.

He did run the race and ate some doughnuts: the sacrifices one undergoes for public education.

But I have one big (among smaller ones) complaint about that survey which Johnson is exploiting on a glossy piece of propaganda: it should have asked about teachers’ views not only of their school, but MORE of their perceptions of the state leadership.

You can see the questions that were administered on the 2018 version and the results here:  https://ncteachingconditions.org/results.

The results from this 2018 version do nothing more than demonstrate the disconnect that those who want to re-form schools have with the reality of schools; they displayed that what really drives the success of a school are the people – from the students to the teachers to the administration to the support staff and the community at large.

It is hard to take a survey seriously from DPI when the questions never get beyond a teacher’s actual school. There is never any way to convey in this survey from the state what teachers think about the state’s role in education or how standardized testing is affecting working conditions.

It should ask teachers’ views not only of their school, but MORE of their perceptions of the county / LEA leadership and state leadership.

Below are the main questions (there are subsets) asked on the survey that actual teachers answer.

  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about the use of time in your school.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about your school facilities and resources.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about community support and involvement in your school.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about managing student conduct in your school.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about teacher leadership in your school.
  • Please indicate the role teachers have in each of the following areas in your school.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with statements about leadership in your school.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with statements about professional development in your school.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about instructional practices and support in your school.

There is nothing about how teachers feel about the state’s role in how public schools operate. If Johnson was really keen on “listening” to teachers concerning their views about working in NC public schools, then the questions would have also gone beyond the “School” and explore the “state.”

Imagine if we as teachers got to answer questions such as:

  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about how the state helps schools with facilities and resources.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about the state’s support and involvement in your school.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about state leadership at the Department of Public Instruction.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with statements about state leadership.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with statements about professional development sponsored by the state.
  • Please rate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about  support for schools from the state.

When NC public schools receive a majority of their funds, mandates, stipulations, guidelines, and marching orders from the state, then should not the NC Teacher Working Condition Survey include teacher perceptions on the role of the state and its influence?

Yes.

But the results of those questions on the survey would tell a much more pointed story: one that Mark Johnson may not really want to know or have published on a glossy piece of propaganda.

Simply put, we need more pointed questions because looking at this picture and using Johnson’s math seems to strongly indicate that it is possible to love your schools as a teacher and be disgusted with how the state treats them.

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One thought on “Glossy Propaganda And The Need To Add Questions To The Working Conditions Survey

  1. Pingback: $35,000 To $52,000 Or $24,600 To $86,291-Plus: Our State Superintendent’s Problem With Glossy Numbers | caffeinated rage

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