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Letter: School survey a case of 'garbage in'

To the editor,

There is a well-known saying in statistics called "garbage in, garbage out."

If a survey instrument is designed poorly (garbage in), any information received from that survey is worthless (garbage out). The school district will be surveying the public later this month to receive input on whether the district should follow an architectural firm's recommendations to close, remodel or build new schools.

After reviewing the survey to be presented to the public, it is clear that the district has designed a misleading instrument that will only produce "garbage out." For example, the word "closing" does not appear once in the survey in regard to potential school closures, nor does it list the specific schools that would close. The survey also asks the public if a new 750-student "north end" elementary school should be built, without mentioning that this school would not actually be located in the city's north end or that it would cost upwards of $30 million.

One question asks if all schools should provide similar "21st century learning environments" without defining what, exactly, this means. Does this term refer to just the physical environment within schools, or does it refer to learning resources, curricular models or ongoing professional development of teachers?

As currently designed, this survey will not provide the school board with any useful information, should not be presented to the public and should be thrown out with the garbage.

Whitney Berry

Grand Forks

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