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Can you be an idealist and a bit of a pessimist?

In an hour or so, I will be heading to J's school to make copies of a survey I put together with the help of a small committee. At a tuition meeting two months ago, about 10 or so of us said we wanted the school to see better days. We wanted more for our money. Most of all, we didn't want to just complain; we wanted to help make things better. So about a month ago, I brought up the idea of a survey for the parents to fill out, and I presented a rough draft to the group at a follow-up meeting for the 10 or so parents at the tuition meeting who wanted to make things better. I received some input from some group members, and I am happy to say that most of the group was very complimentary and thanked me for my work on the survey (I put in hours and hours, believe it or not). The idealist in me likes to think good things can come from us. But am I just kidding myself?

Some people hate surveys. They loathe the time spent filling them out. They are afraid their comments will have negative repurcusions. Most of all, they figure nothing will happen as a result.

If only 25 to 40 percent of the parents take the time to fill out the survey, we probably won't have an accurate picture of what is going on and how people really feel. The same is true if people hold back for fear that they or their children will be treated differently. And if people are too negative, it might turn off the administration, who might just assume those people are the chronic complainers who have nothing better to do.

I tried to make the survey as anonymous as possible. For the first part, parents need only circle the ranking that accurately reflects their opinion of each question. However, we are asking parents to include the grade level for each kid. And if only a few parents from certain grades fill out the survey, it could be obvious who those people are. The second part of the survey contains open-ended questions. There is the handwriting recognition factor, I realize, but what can you do. The second part is optional, more for those who really have strong opinions and ideas.

I am very interested to see what people have to say and I hope that we get a 75 percent response rate (there is the idealist again!). But as important, I hope that positive change results. Obviously, you can't "fix" everything. And if only a few people are bothered by something, it is probably not going to be addressed. But wouldn't it be great if the school became aware of some things they had not been previously and those "important" things got better?

One can hope. You know, hope and change, and all!


Lynnette said…
Have you considered offering the survey via SurveyMonkey as well, for those that might find it easier to type their answers online? I'm hopeful that this will do some good. Be sure to let us know how it turns out.
Facie said…
Actually, using SM was my original idea, but it ended up becoming a paper survey. This mostly had to do with concern about set up and carry out, since some parents would need to fill out Part 1 several times (once for each kid), but Part 2 only once. I am not sure how that would work with SM.

I wanted to include a question on the survey about the school's greenness, but skipped it after the survey went to paper! We did say when we do another survey, we would do it via SM (or something like that). I guess it will partly depend on how well this goes.

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