Surveys and Trust Capital

If you have read any books about survival, you might recall the difference between those who survive when lost in the woods and those who don’t.  As it turns out, the secret to survival is less physical stamina, and more mental strength and temperament.

When people are lost, experts tell us, the worst thing they can do is become desperate and start wasting their limited resources on useless, counter-productive activity. Without too much exaggeration, I can say I have seen this desperation in public education, with one particular pattern catching my attention. Faced with poor prospects in an upcoming decision, some administrators resort to a desperate act of launching a survey.

Now, don’t get me wrong — I realize there’s a lot of good in surveys. They get people involved and give legitimacy to certain positions. Trouble is, something as powerful and complex as a survey in a public school setting requires a serious understanding of the art and science of surveying. Otherwise, it might get mishandled, leaving you worse off than you were to begin with.

In future posts I will share the reasons why school district surveys must be strategically planned and managed with expertise and finesse. At their best, surveys are worth much more than just the dataset they create. They can be the foundation of building trust with the public, your staff, parents and students.

Trust is the bedrock of our public education system. Let’s nurture it and keep increasing its reserves.

Categories: Essay, Features

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