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Thursday, January 05, 2012

How Many Things Can the Local Press Get Wrong?

First we have the story in Crosscut about the survey results that not only mis-reported the results (seriously, how do you get the numbers wrong in a story about the numbers?), but also grossly mis-interpreted them. The numbers in the story have been corrected but the editorial content remains mis-directed. The Crosscut story suggests that Dr. Enfield's 37% favorable rating in the survey suggests that the City loves her but that the Board's 33% favorable rating suggests that the City thinks they stink. Let's remember that the survey has a margin of error of five percentage points so these two results are, statistically, the same. Let's also note that Dr. Enfield got a 56% neutral rating. So way more people responded "Susan Who?" than proclaimed their love. And if a 37% favorable rating means love, then what does the teachers' 81% favorable rating suggest? Adoration, I suppose. Dr. Enfield, despite the focus of the story, actually finished a distant fifth - Michele Bachman territory - behind teachers (81%), schools (62%), the PTSA (60%) and the district as a whole (60%). Behind those numbers her 37% looks like something you would scrape off your shoe.

Then we have Publicola also, bizarrely, getting the numbers wrong.

The news story in the Times has it right. Good job, Brian Rosenthal.

Worst of all is the column in Crosscut by Anthony B. Robinson. This is a guy who, during the election, acknowledged that he didn't really pay much attention to the school board races. Now he says that we should have done a better job of supporting and following the past three superintendents. Really? Did he meet them? Was Dr. Goodloe-Johnson such a prize? In a bizarre self-contradiction, Mr. Robinson says that the 2010-2011 school board was one of the best ever, and it was the one that fired her. Raj Manhas was called out by his own blue-ribbon committee, the CACIEE, as having failed to fulfill any of the executive duties. And as for Joseph Olchefske, was it poor support from the community and the unions that caused him to overspend $32 million? I don't think so.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

When reading results, the wording is important. There were two surveys: one, a community survey, or citizens of Seattle (n=400), called the "public," and two, a stakeholder survey, or "stakeholders" (n=3733).

Stakeholders could report themselves in multiple categories, so even though there were 3700 some stakeholders, some 4200 responses were tallied. The results are reported by stakeholder group. Somewhere around 1/3 of stakeholders were either teachers, district staff, or from an advocacy organization. The large majority of stakeholders identified as family of student.

Out of the 400 people in the "community survey," 46% had no direct relationship with SPS (not a graduate, no kids in SPS).

It's not surprising that some of the results might have been misreported...no conspiracy theory, it just switches from "stakeholder" to "public" and needs to be read carefully.

Seattle parent

dan dempsey said...

Mr. Anthony Robinson wrote the following:
"The last School Board (2010 - 2011) was one of the best we’ve had in a recent decades. "

He is either not a close observer or he just does not believe that the extraordinary number of findings by the State Auditor's Office is a big deal.

What criteria does he use for "Best"?

"Best" follower of Ed Reform agenda?

basically said...

I'm developing a little crush on BriRo at the ST, for being so.....factual.

:-)

mirmac1 said...

NEWSFLASH! State not fully funding education...zzzzzz.

WA Supreme Court ruling

Melissa Westbrook said...

I have no idea what is going on at Crosscut but clearly I need to find out.

Yes, do blame parents and teachers and communities for MGJ's failures. And Raj's. And Olchefske's.

The first thing I said to MGJ was "Welcome to our district. How can I help?" I never did get any kind of direction or answer from her. And I mean not me personally but what did she ever tell us as parents or community?

Brian is a smart guy and he's running rings around the other media. They are doing sloppy work and they should be ashamed of it. Either that or leave the education reporting to people who know the issue.

mirmac1 said...

Well, he got a finger-wag or two last night during public testimony but on the whole he is a VAST improvement over the last education (reform) marketer, Shaw.

seattle citizen said...

PI columnist Joel Connelly evidently thinks "several" school board candidates are "bats**t crazy":

This week's Stranger Regrets issue features local politicos and others responding to the Stranger's request for THEIR regrets about the Stranger. Mr. Connelly, PI.com, says that he regrets that "Stranger news editor Dominic Holden did not use the phrase 'bats**t crazy' while moderating the debate between Seattle School Board candidates, since several qualified."

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Anthony B. Robinson is the husband of Linda Robinson, principal at Whittier Elementary. That he gets the insiders view and still says all of this is even more disturbing.

-Mom extraordinaire

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