Sometimes you’re just a small fish in a very big ocean…


South West Rocks - 21.jpg
Conor Williams has a post up at TPM on the issue of Campbell Brown and in a marvelous bit of bait and switch makes an ad hominem attack on critiques of so-called “ed reformers” by accusing them of making… ad hominem attacks! Sabrina Joy Stevens in a response at TPM, gives him the benefit of the doubt about the issue of incivility, so I’m going to leave that argument to her.

I’m going to point out just a few salient points, comparing the civilized response of so-called “reformers” to the loutish behavior by folks opposed to them is not surprising. Of course reformers have message discipline because they are, by and large, a small group of paid professionals. On the other hand, supporters of public schools are a rather broad coalition of teachers, parents, and other community members. They are not professionals, but this is about their children, their students, their PROFESSION. Excuse us if we get a bit testy, and intemperate. Do I think it’s a good idea? No, but to a more curious reporter it might have struck him that he’s dealing with two different groups of fish in this body of water, and the pro-public ed forces are not the sharks.

When I was down in LA this summer, there was a media panel that included Howard Blume of the LA Times, and an editor of a chain of papers that are in the San Gabriels that are the eastern flank of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. Someone dressed down Howard/the Times about inaccuracy. The editor from the San Gabriel area was taken aback and said that she had lost him when she started using words like “lying” and advised to be taken seriously, she shouldn’t start the conversation that way. Mr. Blume who the comment was addressed to said he didn’t have an issue with it because he understood the context of what was going on at LAUSD and it’s relations with UTLA and the LA Times. The guy who was covering a lot of other districts that are essentially like a ring-suburb did not, and just focused on the message delivery. Since his papers don’t have much of LAUSD, and stick to local reporting, he perhaps felt he could avoid not understanding the context. Mr. Blume knew that to be a half-way decent reporter on his beat, he needed to understand where that teacher was coming from. Mr. Williams is clearly isolated.

Do I think that you should be on the attack constantly against a complacent media? You certainly shouldn’t be rude and that comment was a rookie move. But to call oneself a reporter on education and to align oneself with Michelle Rhee as a fellow victim shows a real lack of knowledge about things Mr. Williams should know about like reports that she helped do “damage control” when her now husband was accused of inappropriate behavior with students at a charter school he founded. But maybe he’s just afraid of getting the sort of treatment that John Merrow did when he decided to cover the DCPS testing scandal under Rhee’s tenure. Mr. Williams also conveniently forgets the social media/media blitz by so-called reformers that was turned on Linda Darling Hammond when it was feared she would become Secretary of Education, all for her apostasy on Teach for America. Really, if that’s “civilized” behavior, I’d prefer someone sending me a nasty Tweet. By aligning himself with Rhee and Campbell Brown as victims it shows he’d like to be a “big fish” but really reporters are just minnows to folks like Rhee and Brown and if they ever perceived his work posed a threat (like Merrow’s did in spite of agreeing with much of the reform agenda), he’d discover that. In the meantime, he should be happy that teachers consider him important enough to argue with.

Image credit: South West Rocks – 21.jpg by Dave Bluck, on Flickr

by posted under politics/policy | No Comments »    

Email will not be published

Website example

Your Comment:


Links of Interest


Creative Commons License
All of Ms. Mercer's work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Skip to toolbar