Article on Survey Results Skewed Good Opinion of School Boards

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To the Editor:

The article "Superintendents Wary of Boards, Poll Finds" (Oct. 2, 2013) is suspicious.

To defend this title, two graphs display responses to two statements from superintendents surveyed as part of the Gallup/Education Week Superintendent Panel. To the statement "I am confident that school districts in the U.S. are well-governed at the board level," the article chose to focus on the fact that only 2 percent of superintendents strongly agreed, followed by a quote from a Gallup executive: "These are our most visible, vocal school leaders coming out to say we could definitely do better with our boards."

The article gives short shrift to the other statement related to school boards: "I am confident that my school district is well-governed at the board level." Thirty-seven percent of superintendents strongly agreed, and another 36 percent agreed. In other words, 73 percent of superintendents agreed or strongly agreed that their own districts are well-governed. Fourteen percent were neutral, and only 11 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed.

Any reasonable analysis would suggest that superintendents are more likely to be well-informed about the governance of their own districts and less likely to be well-informed about the governance of other districts. Focusing on the 2 percent who strongly agreed that other districts in the United States are well-governed seems an incomplete summary or analysis at best. It could also suggest a bias against boards.

The survey clearly shows that a majority of superintendents believe their districts are well-governed. And so to all the elected people who serve, for providing that good governance to all those districts, perhaps we should simply say, "Thank you."

Christopher Maricle
Policy and Program Officer
California School Boards Association
West Sacramento, Calif.

Vol. 33, Issue 14, Page 30

Published in Print: December 11, 2013, as Article on Survey Results Skewed Good Opinion of School Boards
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