Correlation does not imply causation
To the editor:
At the July 14 meeting of the Mt. Pleasant Community School District Board of Directors, I delivered the results of a vote taken by the teachers in the district. As I stated at the meeting, 99 of the 102 teachers who voted said they have no confidence in the leadership of the district.
I also read comments written by one of the teachers and described the atmosphere of fear and tension that I observed as I worked as a substitute teacher in the middle and high schools during the past year.
Since that meeting, many people have contacted me via telephone, email, regular mail and Facebook to thank me for speaking up for the teachers of our district. People make a point to approach me in the grocery store or other public places to express their appreciation. Some are teachers or school support staff, some are parents of students in the schools and some are simply concerned citizens who have no direct connection to the school.
So I must disagree with Dr. Lonny Morrow’s assessment that it is “a very small group of individuals who are unhappy with…the district.” To the contrary, it appears that there are many people who are concerned about the current leadership of MPCSD. It is the responsibility of the school board to listen, investigate and respond to their concerns.
In teaching data interpretation concepts to my middle and high school math classes, I always warned the students that correlation does not imply causation.
In other words, two changes happening at the same time does not necessarily mean that one is the cause of the other. Dr.Morrow provides an example of this common error in reasoning. He contends that since student achievement improved in the same year that there was a new superintendent in the district, it was his policies that caused the improvement.
This is simply not a defendable conclusion. It is possible that test scores went up, not because of the superintendent’s “expectations and accountability measures,” but rather, in spite of them. In fact, it is possible that gains would have been greater if teachers had been provided a positive and encouraging work environment.
Dr. Morrow encourages patrons of the school district to attend board meetings and contact the superintendent and board members. I would also recommend going to the school’s website and reading the board policy and minutes of the meetings. It is important that the residents of this school district be informed about decisions that are being made.