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Menlo Park school district sending survey to all registered voters

Original post made on Oct 28, 2016

Beginning this week, the Menlo Park City School District is mailing every registered voter in the district an invitation to participate in an online survey.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, October 27, 2016, 2:27 PM

Comments (21)

7 people like this
Posted by Caroline Lucas, Ed. D.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 28, 2016 at 12:30 am

Thank you MPCSD and School Board for reaching out to all community members through this venue. It's great to see this concerted effort to solicit input from the entire public; it is much appreciated. I look forward to hearing the findings and will appreciate the opportunity to react to them.

Thank you Barbara Wood for providing such good coverage to the public during an important time for our district. This is also appreciated.


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 28, 2016 at 11:47 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Where's the beef? May I have the envelope, please?
Someone please post the content of the mailing to "registered voters".
I thought "community" meant all of us, registered or not.
Panorama Education Web Link seems more focused on parent-child-staff relations, not politics.


2 people like this
Posted by Took the survey
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 28, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Took the survey, the questions were not those in Jack Hickey's link.
Survey was related to perceptions of MPCSD, spending priorities, opinions on parcel tax. Questions were similar to those in the ones on the online Structural Deficit Input Form linked on the district website ("online form for you to submit your online input before October 31").


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Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 28, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

The article says that the mailings were "...beginning this week", and that "The survey invitation will come from the district and Panorama Education..."

Future tense.

Perhaps Took was speaking of a different survey.


8 people like this
Posted by Joe G.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 28, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Joe G. is a registered user.

I got mine today in the mail. It came in a plain white envelop. At first I thought it was junk mail and was about to throw it out until I saw a similar one for my wife. Why would such an important community survey be in a plain white envelop with no indication that this was a survey for MPCSD? I wonder how many others will see it and also think it is junk mail. Maybe someone from the district can explain the rational for sending the survey this way.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 28, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I just completed the survey.

Lots of good inward looking questions but some critical outward looking questions were missing:

1 - The ONLY question on outreach was "How helpful have you found the MPCSD-posted budgets and projects on OPENGOV.ORG?"

2 - No questions were asked about what information is missing?

3 - No questions were asked about how well the District serves the taxpayers.

4 - No questions were asked about the accountability of the School Board except "How effectively do you feel the following groups fulfill their responsibilities at Menlo Park City School District (MPCSD)?
21.
School Board" with no further elaboration.


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 31, 2016 at 10:45 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Pursuant to my PRA request, I received the following from MPCSD:

Good morning Mr. Hickey,

Please see attached for the three documents you requested from Mr. Sheikholeslami on 10/29/16 :

1) Panorama Contract with MPCSD for Community Survey
2) Panorama Community Survey Cover Letter
3) Panorama Community Survey Questions

Thank you,

Lanita Villasenor
Executive Assistant to the Superintendent

Questions:
Why did the survey letter state:
"Dear Menlo Park City School District Resident" when it was mailed to registered voters?
Why did the District not remove duplicate addresses? Seems like Joe and his wife each got a solicitation. Was that the only duplication? It is my personal experience with voter registration lists in ExCel, that it only takes a few seconds to remove duplicates.
Why the collection of ethnicity and other identifying characteristics in the survey?

This is clearly political activity intended to influence the outcome of an election, which has been classified as "electioneering by the U.S. supreme court. Unfortunately, since it is not yet on the ballot, it is not proscribed by state law. However, the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury should take an interest in this and other "electioneering" activities of government.

I sent the following to Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association:

"This appears to be a preparatory step to another parcel tax election. Can’t we get the Supreme Court to classify this as 'electioneering'?
And have them include annual reports sent out 2 weeks before an election."

See: Web Link


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Posted by Took the survey
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 31, 2016 at 11:24 am

Mr. Hickey, there were calls for MPCSD to get community input re spending priorities and parcel tax and it seems to me that is exactly what they are doing with the survey? As for sending to registered voters in the district I'd guess that is a good way to target adults. My spouse might very well have a different opinion from mine. Some households even will have more than two adults.

If you have alternative proposals for gathering community input perhaps you could share those at an upcoming board meeting? Thank you for taking an interest in our schools.


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 31, 2016 at 11:47 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

The community(voters) gave their input at the last election. The district is in denial. They should live within their means. Current expenditure per pupil, with proper accounting, is approaching $20,000. That's ludicrous. If half of that came from the MPAEF, that would be a different story.


2 people like this
Posted by Wondering
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 31, 2016 at 12:28 pm

While I appreciate that a survey was sent, I am wondering several things:

Why was the per pupil spending listed for neighboring districts but not foundation recommended contributions?

This showed Woodside as spending $20,000K per student and Menlo Park spending only $13,000. That shows one side of the story. Woodside asks $8,000 per child from her family for foundation contributions.

The survey selectively showed the great things about our schools (that we score as well as other neighboring distrits) which is should. But then it showed certain facts that would sway voters to answer favorably to supporting a parcel tax. (We spend less on our students that other districts but get the same results). Why were other facts not included such as the foundation ask? Such as salaries compared to neighboring disriccts? Such as administrator /student ratios? Maybe we are getting the same results because we have more staff members? Better benefits? I don't know the reason; I'm glad that we are getting such good results on less per pupil spending but I do not like that the public was only given part of the picture. That doesn't feel transparent to me.

I also wonder if the survey was really about getting voter support to put a measure on the ballot or if it was about getting input about the district's performance? If it was truly the latter, then I wonder why the per pupil spending was listed for all those neighboring districts....

Does the board want the public to support what they think is best or does the board want the public to share what the public thinks is best?

Where are the questions soliciting information about the board's effectiveness in serving and communicating with the community at large?

It's a good first step, but given that the community is telling the board that it doesn't feel heard, asking for input for survey questions, timing, marking/packaging would have shown an interest in wanting to improve. into the survey before it went out would have been prudent.

I will fully trust the board when I see a process in place for full disclosure and invitations to the public to participate in the discussions that matter.
invited to give input?

Who decided the timeline for the survey (right before the election and right before the deadline for placing something on the March ballot hmmmm)

Why now and not three months ago nor three months from now if the primary motive is not to gain voter support for a placing a measure on the ballot?

Why was the envelope not clearly marked for all voters to clearly identify the survey? Does the board want to hear from EVERYONE? Parent got reminders to be on the lookout but the public didn't and the envelope needed to be clear and obvious.




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Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Oct 31, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

Just to clarify. Woodside Elementary School's foundation's current "ask" Web Link is $4,800 per student, not $8,000. To my knowledge it has never been that high.


4 people like this
Posted by Is the survey a push poll?
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Oct 31, 2016 at 1:39 pm

Push poll - an ostensible opinion poll in which the true objective is to sway voters using loaded or manipulative questions.

----

I agree with a lot of what @Wondering says. The information provided with the survey does seem biased toward promoting the need for another parcel tax. If the district is looking for an unbiased public sampling of the public, then it may have fouled its own data set. Thus, the survey will indicate a higher proportion of parcel tax support than there really may be when a parcel tax measure appears on the ballot.

If Panorama did not warn the district of this problem, Panorama has been negligent in its duty. It's common knowledge in the polling world that to get accurate results, one must be very careful of what is presented right before someone takes a poll. If a poll is prefaced with arguments favorable to one side, it strongly influences the poll's result. That is how a survey becomes a push poll.

Another reason I call this a poll, not a community survey is because a community survey goes out to the entire community, including residents who are immigrants, permanent residents, and citizens who are not registered to vote. These people are part of the community. They send their kids to the local schools. They pay the taxes that fund the schools.

Has the district provided a way for these non-voters to be able to participate? If so, how are they reaching out to these members of the community?


@Jack Hickey

Can a PRA request be made for access to the anonymized survey results? This survey was paid for with public money for the benefit of the community. Anyone in the community should be able to get access to the results at the same level as district employees since the raw data is anonymized.


8 people like this
Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 31, 2016 at 2:11 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

Jack Hickey, you don't live within the MPCSD boundaries, your taxes don't support MPCSD, and you won't have received the survey. What agenda is driving you to be so interested in what's happening with MPCSD? I'd like to see if you have the guts to put it out there plainly, so that those who aren't familiar with your history can be made aware of your longstanding attempts to undermine the public school system.

To those who see some sort of dark intent in the lack of a return address, it seems to have been an error on the part of the printing/mailing vendor. From an email sent by Erik Burmeister: "Why no return address on the envelope? We're trying to find out the answer to that question ourselves."


10 people like this
Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 31, 2016 at 2:13 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

@Took, Jack Hickey isn't taking an interest in our schools. I only wish his intentions were so benign.


2 people like this
Posted by Wondering
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 31, 2016 at 3:32 pm

I don't care if Jack lives in our district or not. The questions he presents are relevant.

I wonder if the survey is a Push Poll, as someone suggested? If it is, then the data used from it should not be used to justify a parcel tax measure. If the data that is collected is skewed in any way (push poll, no support to give online access to seniors, not given to all residents, and other...) it h should not be used?

Who is the firm? Why wouldn't this Panorama company warn the district about a push poll?

I am wondering....


8 people like this
Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 31, 2016 at 3:53 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

It's very easy to find out who Panorama is. They're an extremely reputable school survey company. MPCSD schools have used them for Site Council surveys for several years, and Panorama works with a large number of school all over the country. They're a leader, if not the leader, in the industry.

Web Link

This is not a push poll. It's a survey. The District is trying very hard to do exactly what so may people here have asked them to do; namely, reach out to the community and be more inclusive.

Jack Hickey has a long-standing and well documented agenda of wanting to do away with public education entirely, in favor of a voucher system. Any questions he asks, and veiled accusations he makes, are in furtherance of that agenda.


8 people like this
Posted by HelloHanalei
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 31, 2016 at 4:03 pm

HelloHanalei is a registered user.

Jack Hickey, are you kidding with this???

"Why did the survey letter state:
"Dear Menlo Park City School District Resident" when it was mailed to registered voters?
Why did the District not remove duplicate addresses? Seems like Joe and his wife each got a solicitation. Was that the only duplication? It is my personal experience with voter registration lists in ExCel, that it only takes a few seconds to remove duplicates."

The survey was sent to every registered voter within the boundaries of MPCSD. Hence both the salutation and the fact that EACH REGISTERED VOTER within a household will have received the survey.

Of course the District didn't remove what you call "duplicates." My husband and I might have differing answers to some of the questions, just as Joe G and his wife (Caroline Lucas) might have differing answers to some of the questions. 2 registered voters in a household = 2 surveys.

This seems extremely aboveboard and straightforward to me, and I can't begin to imagine how any reasonable person would question or find fault with it.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 31, 2016 at 4:52 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Push Poll asked: "Can a PRA request be made for access to the anonymized survey results?" Absolutely! Another PRA request might ask for the e-mail list being gathered by Panorama Education in the survey process.

HelloHanalei I have been a resident of Emerald Hills for the past 51 years. I am a registered user of this forum. I take an interest in the entire government education monopoly in California. MPCSD is only a blip on my radar screen which became visible when they had the arrogance to place two parcel taxes on a March ballot. I share my resulting research and opinions with followers of this forum.

I am a promoter of real choice in education. In 1979, I authored a Constitutional Amendment entitled (Hickey-Canfield Performance Voucher Initiative). It was endorsed by Dr. Milton Friedman. Twenty years later I introduced a revision entitled "Performance and Accountability Voucher for Education (PAVE 2000) See: Web Link With a little encouragement and some editing help, I may reintroduce another version in 2020. Unless, of course, the education monopoly self-destructs.


2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 31, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

HelloHanalei The survey letter stated:
"Dear Menlo Park City School District Resident" yet it was mailed only to registered voters. You don't think that's strange?


3 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Oct 31, 2016 at 7:51 pm

I find Mr. Hickey's input helpful and think the location of his home is irrelevant to the information he provides.

That said, I don't see anything nefarious about to whom MPCSD chose to send the mailing. There are 2 main groups:

group 1: Registered Voters;
group 2: Residents within MPCSD;

The intersection of those 2 groups are the only ones who's input can affect the outcome of another potential parcel tax measure.

To Mr Hickey's implied (inferred? :) ) point, yes, people that are not registered to vote can be interested on MPCSD-related taxation, but they have little real say in the matter since they chose to not register to vote.

And yes, MPCSD is tipping their hand that they plan on requesting a 4th parcel tax; if they weren't planning on it, they'd probably send the mailing out more broadly.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 31, 2016 at 9:46 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"And yes, MPCSD is tipping their hand that they plan on requesting a 4th parcel tax"

I'm "shocked"! Who didn't see that coming? To the school board: try living within your means for a change instead of constantly asking the taxpayers for more money. I'm tired of paying for your misfeasance. You can't have it all. Find someplace to CUT and I might consider voting for a parcel tax that has a SUNSET. I WILL NOT vote for a permanent parcel tax. And I won't vote for a parcel tax if the district doesn't make some cuts. The years of just asking us for ever more money for "the kids" is over.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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