The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. How will the new student assignment plan balance diversity, stability, proximity and stability? How will Jim Merrill replace Tony Tata as the new superintendent of the state's largest district? How will voters react to a $810 million school construction bond referendum on Oct. 8 ballot? How will this fall's school board elections impact the future of the district?

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Civitas survey finds limited support for Wake schools

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A new survey from the Civitas Institute shows limited support for the Wake school system and the diversity policy.

Civitas surveyed 500 Wake likely voters earlier this month on a variety of topics such as student reassignment, diversity, school funding and teacher pay. Keep in mind the conservative perspective that Civitas is coming from, which can be seen in the way some questions are worded.

Civitas' conservative perspective doesn't mean you ignore the survey results. But it's something you keep in mind, just like you'd do when looking at surveys from the Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling.

The questions have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.38 percentage points.

Here are some highlights:

When asked about "the board's current policy of assigning students to schools based on achieving diversity, instead of sending students to the school closer to their home," 25 percent said they're in support and 69 percent oppose.

Forty-nine percent agreed that the district is too large and should be split up.

Seventy percent agreed with the statement "some people say this (diversity) policy is unfair to parents and students who are not allowed to go to the school closest to their home."

Forty-nine percent of the respondents said they'd prefer to send their children to a private school or home school while 45 percent said they'd opt for a Wake public school. BTW, 50 percent of the people in the survey were age 56 and older.

Red flags go up when you see how they asked the questions on teacher pay. For some background, Civitas and the other parts of what have been called "Pope Political Inc." have questioned efforts to raise teacher pay in North Carolina.

The survey first asks whether you think teacher pay should increase, decrease or stay the same. A solid 64 percent said it should increase.

On the next question, 70 percent said they'd be willing to pay higher property taxes to give teachers a pay increase.

The third question asks people how much they think the average teacher earns in Wake.

The kicker is the next question: "If you knew the average compensation for a teacher in Wake County was about $53,000 per year do you think it should increase, decrease or remain the same?"

The support level dropped to 38 percent. For stay the same, it's 49 percent.

What's tricky about the question here is that they use the words "average compensation" and not salary for teachers. It would drop below $50,000 if you only looked at salary.

When asking a question about Supt. Del Burns, they used his salary.

Click here to download the survey.


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Push poll

The fact that it comes from a conservative polling outfit has nothing to do with its quality. However, the style of many of the questions is clearly favoring one of choices. Many questions are "If you knew [fact supporting our argument], would you [support our policy] or [counter our policy]. For example:

"If you knew that despite diversity reassignment and busing in Wake County, the achievement gap between minority and white students has continued to grow, would you be more likely or less likely to support assigning students to schools to achieve diversity?"

An example of a less biased question is from this poll is:

"Do you support or oppose the school board’s current policy of assigning students to schools based on achieving diversity, instead of sending students to the school closest to their home?"

However, having the biased question in the poll will tend to change answers on other questions, so you really have to take the results of this poll with a grain of salt.

Even The Question You Reference as less biased

...cleary is because it implies an either/or situation where kids would go to the school closest to their home without the diversity policy.  It is, of course, algorithmically impossible to send all kids to the closest school.

pigola, No doubt questions


No doubt questions like the first one you listed can skew the results of an opinion poll.  First and foremost because you want people to answer based on what they currently know if your goal is to find out how an upcoming election will go.  However, if you’d like to know what people’s opinions will be IF they knew all the facts, then there is nothing wrong with that question.  That is why WCPSS doesn’t want people to know the FACTS, which is shameful b/c they shouldn’t be supporting something based on what they WANT, but rather what actually WORKs.  What the answer to that question suggest is that we need to educate people on the FACTS before October so people can make an educated decision instead of an indoctrinated decision.

Reality Rules

Wonder how much Public Policy Polling is charging to tell candidates what they want to hear?

Keep in mind...

"Keep in mind the conservative perspective that Civitas is coming from, which can be seen in the way some questions are worded." Unbelievable comment coming from a liberal rag. If you are going to start "warning" people about the political philosophy an article, survey, etc is based from, then you better start doing this with every article, survey, op ed, AP story, etc in the N&O.

Take your own article titled "Learning with less in schools". What is the point of an article on hand-wringing over cuts to the education system? Is it to suggest the liberal approach that the public should support, and not fight against, raising taxes so the education system has enough money, despite the fact that we spend more money on education than any other country? Definitely so.

Here's an idea, why don't you people do a little investigative journalism and explain why there aren't several of other government services that couldn't have been cut or eliminated before cutting education funds or why it cost so much to educate a child. Establish some credibility in your reporting by answering questions like these first, then I might pay attention to a to an article titled "Learning with less in schools".

I put up a similar

I put up a similar disclaimer for surveys posted by Public Policy Polling.

I see no such disclaimer in this article you wrote


Survey: Democrats lead in Wake

A new survey from Public Policy Polling shows Democrats in the lead in three Wake County commissioner races. In the race for the District 4 seat, Democratic challenger Stan Norwalk leads incumbent Republican Kenn Gardner 46 percent to 36 percent.

In District 6, Democratic incumbent Betty Lou Ward leads Republican challenger Larry Tilley 50 percent to 35 percent. In District 5, Democratic incumbent Harold Webb leads Republican challenger Venita Peyton 46 percent to 36 percent.

The survey also asked participants whether they were aware of recent News & Observer articles about Gardner advocating for $1 million in public money to support the Triangle Aquatic Center, a private Cary pool foundation that would later pay him $244,355 in design fees. Gardner has denied doing anything wrong. Only 38 percent said they were aware of the issue.

When asked whether the swimming pool controversy would make them more or less likely to vote for Gardner, 54 percent said less likely, 8 percent said more likely, and 38 percent said it makes no difference.

Public Policy Polling surveyed 541 likely voters between Tuesday and Thursday. The survey's margin of error is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. For complete results, go to www.publicpolicypolling.com.

The link you referred to

The link you referred to was a Triangle Politics column. I wrote the item about the Gwinnett County leaders visiting Wake County to see the schools. My colleague wrote the item about the survey. We pool items for Triangle Politics.

That is quite a copout. 

That is quite a copout.  Your name is on it, so you own it. 

Those lidless eyes, keeping us all safe from charlatans.

Like an 8th grader with Wikipedia and hours of free time, you have found the smoking gun. Congratulations. Mr Hui's response is entirely reasonable and correct but not to the smokescreen-defogging talents of "AntiIllegalAlien".

There are so many rich opportunities at the N&O, why waste your time the one reporter with integrity? 

You can call it a copout if

You can call it a copout if you want but that's how we handle Triangle Poltics. I'm responsible for whatever items I include and my colleagues are responsible for what they do. They stick the names at the top of the story for the online version but if you see the print edition you'll notice that they're all at the bottom as joint contributors for the week.

Perhaps in the future...

you can lobby your editors for disclaimers for surveys posted by Public Policy Polling since you are sticking your neck out to do so for surveys posted by Civitas.


That's, what, 3 different people complaining about this one comment?  As a conservative, I'm familiar with the raw nerve that the comment apparently touched, but good grief.  This isn't 1976 anymore -- there are thousands of sources of news to choose from.  Insisting that any particular one of those sources be absolutely impartial all the time is just silly.  


It's Even Worse Than That

...because they aren't even very parallel cases.  PPP *IS*  a polling company - that's their business. One who happens to work primarily for Democratic/left leaning candidates....but still an entity whose primary function is polling (and which has a strong record of accuracy).

Civitas on the other hand IS an organization whose very raison d'etre is ideologhical and only does polling on the side when it thinks it might serve the cause.  (As far as I can tell, they have no real record of verified accuracy, either. Correct me if Im wrong.).

The difference is quite obvious in their very mission statements as reflcted on their own websites:

Civitas: "The mission of the Civitas Institute is to facilitate the implementation of conservative policy solutions"

PPP:"He also noticed that the price of survey
research kept smaller organizations from enjoying the benefits of
measuring public opinion.
In response, Dean created PPP in 2001 to measure and track public opinion in an affordable way.

It's quite disingenuous for anyone to try draw false equivalncies between the two.  


Bob; that's a count of "2" critical handles, not "3." (I'm wondering whether hand puppetry is involved, perhaps resolving to a single source?) I was being sarcastic, perhaps too obliquely so.


Oh, I got your sarcasm and wasn't including you in the list.  It appears that even with a math degree, I still can't count.

Anyway, given the current number of places where I get information from, the only people who I think should be impartial are those that actually claim to be.  For example, I like Fox News, but the impartiality implied by "Fair and Balanced" doesn't really jibe with what happens there.  CNN's claims to impartiality are also laughable, but at least they don't spew them out on every commercial break.

Do you want thanks for being

Do you want thanks for being even-handed?  Shouldn't that be the norm?

Journalistic bias?

Speaking as a conservative who is well-beyond tired of the N&O's blatant and obnoxious bias, Mr Hui does a enviably brilliant job. I say this not because he "tows my line" (and he surely doesn't) but in knowing his work through this education issue, he is relentlessly fair. His humanity comes through at times but if the N&O had all their journalists at Mr Hui's scrupulous and prolific level, they wouldn't be in the financial straits they're in now. For example, just look at the success of the participation in the WakeEd blog.

You know, from what I've

You know, from what I've read of Mr. Hui's reporting I may agree with you.  I was honestly stunned that he balanced his comment regarding the political leaning of the two surveying organizations.  I was channeling my frustration over the N&O's overall biased reporting through Mr. Hui, perhaps unfairly.  However, I stand by my comments.

Well said.  Given Orage

Well said.  Given Orage Quarles (N&O Senior Editor) is on the board of Wake Ed Partnership and is a strong supporter of existing WCPSS policies, I give Keung kudos for having the cojones to tell it like it is.


Thanks. It's an asymmetric paradox. Tow the line and you can come to safely enjoy patronage while watching your enterprise fail. Do an honestly good job and honestly make money while putting you at odds with patronage, while making them beholden to your profitable work. One way ensures employment, the other a good night's sleep and a lifetime of genuine achievement.

Here's to integrity persevering in our turbulent and challenging age.

Just replying to your

Just replying to your original post.


(1)  Blog post, not an article.

(2)  Civitas is relatively conservative (and, I am a conservative).  Pointing out the political leanings of an organization doing polling is perfectly acceptible. 


(1) how is that relevant wrt the N&O website?

 (2) That's fine if consistently and equally applied, but are you insinuating that shouldn't apply to newspapers?

Interesting that 20% of

Interesting that 20% of respondents work for wcpss or have family members that work for wcpss, yet are strongly tilted against current policies. And, interesting that there are that many people out there with ties to wcpss.


We hear you Wake County!

How many times have we heard stories like the following?!:

* Students passing 10 schools they could be attending on the way to their own school.

* A student's school assignment changing every 2-3 years because their school is not "diverse" enough.

* Parents having to pick up their kids early every Wednesday afternoon, because the school board thinks teachers should be chatting more and teaching less.

* Families with three children on three completely different school calendars, despite the fact they're all in the same school system!

If you fail to vote this October, and you find this happening to you, you'll have no one to blame but yourself!

It's time Wake County got off of their butts and reminded everyone who the school board works for!

Vote in the Wake County school board elections this October!!!

There has been much talk

There has been much talk from lawmakers about the need to spare North Carolina public schools from large budget cuts and protect teachers’ jobs. The General Assembly’s budget provides $7.5 billion for K-12 education, about 93 percent of fiscal 2008-09 actual K-12 expenditures. While much disdain is generally expressed when there is a reduction in state funding levels, what frequently is left out of the discussion are the millions of federal dollars North Carolina public schools will receive as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly known as the federal stimulus plan. An additional $380 million in federal stabilization funds will increase actual general fund spending for public education to $7.8 billion. The new budget totals mean proposed spending is only four percent less than actual spending levels for fiscal 2008-09.


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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.