HISD's Customer-Service Survey: Some Highlights

The Houston school district has released a new "customer satisfaction" survey, where parents and the general Houston population were asked to rate various aspects of the district.

Officials are crowing because many of the ratings increased -- "The results of a new survey conducted earlier this year show a marked increase in the percentage of people whose impression of the Houston Independent School District is positive," spokemsna Norm Uhl said. "The overall opinion among parents and the general population of the district and its schools in 2009 has risen significantly since 2007 (when the last survey was conducted), reflecting a 20 percent or greater increase in favorable ratings from both population segments."

Let's pick through the findings for some oddities.

1. Whites don't feel as safe in school as minorities. Fifty-three percent of whites feel safe in their local HISD school. We're not sure if that's good or not, but it's a lot worse than blacks (62 percent feel safe) and Hispanics (71 percent).

2. No one likes the school board. Well, you can't say "no one," but the approval rankings are down there in Congressional territory. Among the general public, only 17 percent are very satisfied with the board; among HISD parents it's 26 percent. ("Somewhat satisfied" describes 36 percent of the general public and 43 percent of the parents.) On the other hand, "very dissatisfied" is single-digits for both groups.

3. Non-parents think HISD provides crummier equipment and technology than parents do. Maybe parents are thankful to get anything these days. At any rate, 30 percent of parents agree strongly that "HISD provides adequate equipment and up-to-date technology," while only 23 percent of the general public does. Same with computers -- 23 percent of parents strongly agree HISD provides enough of them; only 16 percent of the public does.

4. Non-parents think HISD sucks more than parents. The bottom-line question: Do you agree that "HISD provides a quality school education"? Among parents, 36 percent strongly agree; among the general population, only 28 percent does.

5. Don't let the doorknob hit you on the ass, Abe. HISD didn't highlight this finding, but the people who put the survey together did: Just about the only category that saw lower scores in 2009, as opposed to 2007, was the ranting of the superintendent. The percentage of the general population who were "very" or "somewhat" satisfied with the superintendent's performance fell to 52 percent from 2007's 57 percent; among parents it dropped a single point, to 69 percent.

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