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Sunday, January 27, 2008

The truth behind DOE's high ratings in the principals' survey by Diane Ravitch

Last week, the NYC Department of Education released its survey of principals, showing that more than 70% were satisfied with the support that they receive from the DOE. This was good news for the Department, and they were able to wave these numbers as “proof” that the leaders in the field are satisfied.

As it happened , I was the keynote speaker on Saturday January 26 at the annual meeting of the New York City Elementary School Principals’ Association at the Brooklyn Marriott. Before I spoke, I had a candid conversation with some principals. I heard some of the usual complaints about how out of touch the DOE is, how outrageous is the flood of tests, how heedless the DOE is about the real needs of students and teachers, etc.

So naturally I asked why the principal survey showed such high levels of satisfaction with the DOE. Weren’t the responses anonymous?

I was told, by people who for obvious reasons I cannot name, that principals understand that there is no such thing as anonymity when corresponding by email with the DOE. Principals assume that anything sent to the DOE, even if they do not sign it personally, has the school’s ID. Given what they believe is the “vindictive” spirit of Tweed, most dared not take the risk of expressing negative views.

In the world of interoffice electronic communication, there is no such thing as a secret ballot. Or so they believe. And they were afraid to speak up.

---Diane Ravitch


Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I heard that at my school, less than 20% of the staff answered the teacher survey. The principal is said to have interpreted that to mean that most were satisfied with the way the school was being run.
More likely, people were afraid to fill it out. I didn't, for example.

Anonymous said...

There is a weird state of siege mentality that Boomberg and Klein are responsible for. Everyone is afraid to voice their real opinions because they fear retaliation. Leaders who manage through fear and intimidation could hardly be described as competent. They have a great handicap. They don't possess an ounce of social intelligence.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why the NY Times isn't all over this story. Here is a powerful institution - the mayor's office who is running another city department, the DOE - putting out information that is gathered from workers in a corrupt way. The imbalance of power alone would have been like catnip to journalists of a previous generation. Now the media seems to operate as a PR venue for power...accept their statements with no questions asked.

Anonymous said...

No one who has any experience with any arm of the Bloomberg octopus would doubt the theory put forward by Ravitch's sources.