Yesterday the school system pushed out its infamous "Cut or Keep" survey, and it was every bit as problematic as community members had suspected that it would be. An immediate concern was how much personal information respondents were required to enter. (What ever happened to guaranteeing anonymity?) Local blogger Jason Booms, whose professional field of expertise includes surveys/opinion research, wrote this piece expressing his concerns. In short, from the outset the survey appears both misleading and, frankly, mediocre.
As anticipated, the school system included choosing cuts to teachers' salaries as a possibility, when these agreements have already been negotiated and cannot by law be tampered with. In addition, the area of teachers' salaries has been fully funded by the County Executive. Neither of these facts is conveyed by the survey, leading HCEA leadership to suggest that respondents use the "report abuse" button to report illegal activity: unfair labor practices.
That suggestion must have had quite an effect, as the survey was briefly taken down altogether. When it came back up the only change that had been made was that the "report abuse" button had been removed.
If people don't like how you are treating them, your first step should definitely be to take away their right to protest. Almost like disbanding the Citizens Operating Budget Review Committee, isn't it? When you don't like what the committee says after analyzing the budget, just disband the committee. Silence the opposition.
This isn't only a dispute between the teachers' union and the school system. This isn't only a political game between the school system and the County Executive. It's not as simple as that. It's what happens when you have an entity as large as the school system which has ceased to operate in collaboration with anyone.
Here are some comments from community members:
If you are requesting more money than you have gotten previously, and the full amount is not granted, that is not a cut, and the use of that word absolutely agitates me.
If you are going to "cut" a budget (that is actually getting an increase) then you need to look at the whole budget.
The survey is impossible to complete. you have to choose all CUT in order to meet 50,000,000. otherwise it would not let you save or submit.
This is like trying to balance a family budget by saying I either need to cut heat or water but no one is touching Netflix. This is $50 million out of what, $800+ million? How about we get a crack at cutting stuff out of that part of the budget?
So we all had our ideas about how twisted and biased this survey would be and they, as usual, went beyond the worst fears.
In short: don't take the survey. Write the County Council with your hcpss budget concerns. firstname.lastname@example.org You might want to copy in the County Executive as well. email@example.com
Is hcpss is looking for things to cut, I would suggest that they #cutthesurvey .