Survey to Politically and Racially Profile Students Administered by the Wicomico County Board of Ed
Dear Wicomico County Board of Education Members:
It has come to my attention that WCBOE/WCPS is conducting a student survey in its AP classes, which there are several unethical areas that I would like to bring to your attention. AP students are being asked to fill out a 40-minute survey in exchange for a grade that can be applied to their first period class as extra credit. I have already brought this up in the past, which WCBOE was assigning grades for students to fill out media permission slips. Because the survey is associated with a grade and not presented as optional, the survey is construed by a student as mandatory. It is unethical to ask students to carry out an assignment that’s irrelevant to their academic performance in their core subject in exchange for a grade. When I reached out to my son’s teacher who assigned the survey (Ms. B), she said that my son can be exempt from filling out the survey, but would not receive an extra-credit grade as compared to others who do fill out the survey. Using a letter grade as an incentive to have a student carry out an internal process for the sake of an administrative agenda is bribery, coercion, and manipulation of a student. This is flat out wrong. I see multiple students that received grades for completing the survey. This is grade fixing and manipulation by the WCBOE.
Any survey of a student should: 1. Have parent involvement and permission, with the parents having the option of viewing the survey first. 2. The survey should be optional for those who wish to participate, but not mandatory. 3. A grade should not be given to any student for completing the survey. Giving them a grade makes the survey mandatory, if other students can gain an advantage over another student by completing it.
When I asked the supervisor overseeing the student survey (Ms. K), I was then passed to Principal Pinhey after asking to see the survey questions. Principal Pinhey’s response was: “After reaching out to our representative, it was shared that this instrument contains a copyright and they do not allow electronic versions to be shared. However, we could provide you with the opportunity to review a hard copy on site at Parkside should you wish to do so. Please let us know if you wish to arrange this review.” "What’s wrong with that,” you might ask? Asking a parent to come down to the school or BOE office in order to see a document relating to their child’s education is obstruction, when you can simply provide the document. In addition, what if a parent did not have transportation? This is not only obstruction, but discrimination.
So, it is alright to provide the survey questions to a child, but a parent cannot see the questions when the school system is asked? The excuse of copyright is completely invalid, and the agency (Equal Opportunity Schools) who you contracted with should know very well that the survey would be shared with students, parents, and guardians. These actions have confirmed that WCBOE is trying to deceptively implement an agenda without parental knowledge or involvement. The purpose of the WCBOE Family Engagement Policy INS-SCH-PL-027 is: “To establish a uniform, county-wide standard for creating partnerships between families, the school district, individual schools, and the community for creating, implementing and supporting comprehensive family engagement practices for the purpose of student success.” By systematically creating obstacles before parents in order to hide your political agenda will be made known to parents throughout the school system. This pattern of conduct is no longer suspect. A formal complaint will be filed with the agencies from which WCBOE receives family engagement funding should these unethical practices continue.
As for the survey itself, WCBOE has a big problem. In response to a request to see the survey questions in writing, Ms. K stated the purpose of the survey (even though she was not asked of the purpose): “This survey is an initiative to move capable students to reach their full potential and take AP courses in high school.” If this is true, then the initiative is excellent. We cannot think of anything greater than to provide ALL students an opportunity to thrive and succeed academically above and beyond where they may currently stand. We stand for true Equity and Equality in the schools. However, after reviewing the survey by alternative means, the purpose of the survey was entirely different from its mask of the stated initiative.
Survey intro: “Parkside High School is undertaking a project to build more equitable learning environments with a particular focus on student participation in Advanced Placement (AP) classes. We are partnering with an organization called Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS). EOS works with high schools across the country to ensure AP courses include students from varied backgrounds and abilities. They will be working with us all year to achieve this goal. EOS uses data - like the information you are about to provide us - to ensure that schools and districts see students in new and creative ways. Last school year was unlike any other we’ve experienced. We expect that your experiences navigating the COVID-19 quarantine, remote learning, and the current social and political climate impact how you think about school. We are asking for your participation in this survey to help launch this initiative and improve our school. Your opinion is valuable. The ideas and answers you share will be used to help your teachers, administrators, and staff members to get to know you and your school community better. We are interested in hearing everything you have to say, regardless of whether you have taken AP classes before or not. If you feel that this survey does not provide an answer choice that matches how you feel, please select the best answer available. You will be provided with an opportunity to leave additional comments at the end of the survey. Once you submit a response for a question, you will not be able to go back and change your answer. Thank you for taking time to participate – your opinion is extremely valuable! Please press the "Next" button (below and to the right) to begin the survey. Read each sentence below and mark the choice that shows how much you agree with it. There is no right or wrong answer. Take your time. Sometimes, two questions are asked that sound similar, but are used to provide multiple perspectives and viewpoints.”
As a statistical data analyst, survey developer, policy, and procedural writer, I know exactly how a survey is designed and the methodology and intention behind each and every question. I am appalled at some of the questions, as it is designed to politically profile students, contains racial profiling, assesses teachers to verify they are partaking in activism, and gathers answers based on feelings rather than absolute facts or reality. The survey contains loaded questions that steer the survey into a desired, biased direction to support a predetermined outcome by its implementors: “If you feel that this survey does not provide an answer choice that matches how you feel, please select the best answer available.”
Not only do the implementors of the survey coerce students to fill it out and act as data entry worker bees, the questions are designed to politically and racially profile students centered on their feelings, identity, gender, and race. Based on their responses, students and parents can be categorized and targeted by the implementors. WCBOE has implemented a survey without parental permission, while allowing a 3rd party to gather personal information from their child and about their personal family. This is a breach of confidentiality and violation of civil rights, even if a student willingly participates.
Another problem with the survey is that WCBOE is using students as spies, in order to identify and rat out teachers who are not implementing critical race theory in their classrooms. This is pathetic. It's not fair that their employer would use a survey as a political assessment tool to gauge a teacher's level of activism and adherence to their agenda. The results will then be used to pressure/reprimand teachers, by requiring them to integrate the topics of race, gender, and identity into their lesson plans and class discussions, even though these topics are completely irrelevant to the core subject. This is forcing/bullying teachers to partake in political activism if they desire to keep their job. The Delmarva Parent Teacher Coalition is onto this, and have an undisclosed number of teacher fellow-members who are not happy about it. If you are going to “Recruit and retain a high quality work force” as listed in the budget, then WCBOE better get their act together and show respect and dignity towards everyone – from staff to student.
Lastly, the school system is using the survey to recruit the AP students to carry out activism. It is not the students’ job to identify and recruit. They are not paid faculty. Keep students out of your administrative functions and political activism.
AP classes are already “Open-Access Classes,” which means that anyone can take an AP class without any requirements or prerequisites. WCBOE has already made AP classes available and the opportunity is available to everyone, regardless of race, gender, and identity. Having access to AP classes has nothing to do with race, gender, identity, intellect or the ability to learn. This biased survey implies that people are being discriminated against, and that AP classes are not available to all. It is an insult to those who are identified as incompetent by the design of this survey, as the survey seeks to recruit and fill classes based on race, gender, and identity rather than achievement or ability for a student to achieve. This survey is a tremendous insult to all students by: 1. Implying that students are limited in their abilities because of their race, gender, or identity. 2. Using feelings to override achievement. 3. Implying that students need WCBOE to lower the bar, because they are incapable of achieving on their own.
Based on this survey, this is not about true equity and equality, but politics and social liability. It is clear that the agenda of the survey is to recruit more minorities into AP classes, and to support a second set of standards. These consultants were hired by WCBOE for the purpose of the school system to have a political appearance of compliance, diversity, and inclusion, even if it defies all practicality and reality. Affirmative Action cannot forcibly replace achievement with pass-goes in any form. The problem with the survey is that it’s trying to address an issue using the wrong approach. Artificially-stimulated opportunity is not opportunity, but a rigged system that only harms students in the end.
The real solution is to identify students who already work hard and achieve where they are at (not by survey, but by class performance), then suggesting AP courses to the student. Those who struggle with school or not currently in AP classes should be offered tutoring and encouragement in order to excel. Students need to be brought up to a point where they are ready for AP classes if they are not already. That’s real opportunity.
AP classes are overrated, and not what they are cranked up to be in WCPS. AP classes in Wicomico don’t truly prepare students for AP exams, and exams are administered before the classes are completed. An AP course taught in a semester is all the more challenging if a student is to pass the exam. Many colleges don’t accept AP credits, so what does AP mean in the end? Nothing really, but inflated GPAs that make the students look to perform better than they are, and to support the illusion that WCPS is performing above actuality.
Regardless of AP classes, honors classes, or regular classes, each student needs to have an opportunity to excel. It all comes down to how we do it. I request that WCBOE refrain from giving any student a grade or extra credit in exchange for filling out surveys or forms, and remove any grade for anyone who has received a grade for filling out the survey. As an elected Board, if you yourselves impartially view all students as equal, then you would not have to hire consultants (using taxpayer dollars) to show you. Let it be known that your actions speak volumes to the citizens. Consider this letter a formal complaint filed with the WCBOE. I look forward to your response, along with your corrective action plan, as we work to achieve true equity and equality in our schools.
Fellow Member, Editor, and Parent in Wicomico County
Copyright DelmarvaPTC.org 2020
November 18, 2020
EXHIBITS - RANDOM SURVEY QUESTIONS FROM WCBOE FALL SURVEY
1. I have participated in activities or assignments that helped me express my values and personal identity.
2. I have participated in activities and assignments that explicitly discuss things like race or gender.
3. I have had opportunities in class that helped me make connections and find things in common with students whose racial, ethnic, or social class background are different from mine.
4. The activities and assignments in class feel relevant to me.
5. Readings, assignments, activities, and classroom decorations include role models, writers, and people who share my ethnic or racial background.
6. I have the opportunity to redo assignments or to re-take quizzes or tests if I need to.
7. Our identities are important to our learning. Racial identity, though complicated, is often a significant part of how we see ourselves and how the world sees us. We’re interested in knowing how this issue is addressed in your AP class. How often does your AP teacher engage in conversations about race in class?
8. How often do other students in your AP class engage in conversations about race?
9. My AP teacher shows they care about my racial identity. (For example, they show they are aware of racial identity and value diversity.)
10. Your school is working to make sure that students of every race/ethnicity and income background feel welcome, invited, and encouraged to participate in AP courses. Your school's principal or one of your teachers might ask students like you for help in their work to increase participation in AP courses. If your school were to invite students to help with these efforts, would you be interested in participating?
11. Did one or more of your parents or guardians graduate from a two- or four-year college?
12. Please select the activities you would be interested in helping to organize or participate in, if your school chooses to offer these opportunities:
Share with staff members about why you chose to participate in AP or chose not to, and your experiences in those classes
Participating in additional student leadership groups to promote positive change in AP classes
Help organize an assembly to encourage students to enroll in AP
Participate on a student advisory council that meets with school administration
Organize peer recruitment, mentoring, and/or support groups for other students
I identify as: (Select all that apply) Please understand that the options we have provided you below are very limited and could never fully capture your identity. Please select the identity that comes closest for you but we encourage you to tell us more about how you identify by selecting "Prefer to self-describe" and write in how you identify.
Just one last thing: We want to make sure you know that your school is an "open access" AP school, which means that any student who wants to take an AP class can enroll in one. As you may know, taking AP classes has been shown to help students improve their time-management and critical thinking skills and do better in college.
We encourage you to contact the WCBOE board members to let them know how you feel on the state of the schools, which they oversee.
WCBOE Board Members
Donald Fitzgerald - firstname.lastname@example.org
Gene Malone - email@example.com
Allen Brown - firstname.lastname@example.org
John Palmer - email@example.com
Tonya Lewis - firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Murray - email@example.com
Ann Suthowski - firstname.lastname@example.org
Survey Questions - Equal Opportunity Schools https://eos.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_7aDUlqcOgMAKrA1
Any copyright © information provided at no charge and strictly for educational purposes.