Ho-hum. It was the usual one-two punch in the Globe today.
James Vaznis reported on the Boston superintendent’s announcement that 12 ‘underperforming” Boston school will be shaken-up. Boston superintendent Carol Johnson announced that five principals will be replaced and the staff at six of the schools at the schools will be forced to reapply for their jobs.
Mr. Vaznis asked everyone for a comment (well, almost everyone). Ms. Johnson has a quotation. The Governor expresses his concerns. Mayor Menino gets his say-so. A superintendent voices his fond hope for some of that RTT money. Even union president Richard Stutman gets a word in.
Once again, not a single, solitary teacher-only the group most effected by this shake-up-is asked for a comment or thought. To do so might give the impression, mirabile dictu, that they can actually think. How do they feel about having to reapply for their jobs, mostly in the absence of any evaluations? What is their response when the Boston superintendent says teachers are going to have to “recommit themselves”? One would think these are natural questions for a reporter to ask.
By not asking them and having only Mr. Stutman respond, Mr. Vaznis reinforces the perception that the world of education can be best explained via the “determined reformer/selfish union” dichotomy. This is the prescription lens being ground for us and placed before our eyes. The reader walks away without any sense of how the people in the trenches (including the fired principals) feel about this action or how they explain the students’ low performance. This is a great example of how journalism can be deficient despite the absence of any reportorial error. It’s all about omission. The mental world of the Globe is populated only by those who occupy high positions of responsibility. Important people. Like them.
Question: if a significant number of reporters at the Globe were going to reassigned or let go because of poor performance, would the reporter covering that story think to ask any of them for their thoughts? You would kind of think so.
A related editorial is the right-cross that is supposed to send us to the canvas. In a piece entitled, “Menino’s Circle of Change,” the Globe editors help us reach the correct conclusion about the Boston school shake-up, just in case the story didn’t do the job. In a tone dripping with the usual condescension-honestly, I would treat my dog with more respect-the editors announce they are beginning to see evidence that Menino just might have a vision for his fifth term. The evidence is the shake-up and the mayor’s willingness to deliver on another Globe passion: more charter schools for Boston. Mayor Menino must be feeling terrific to have earned that pat on the head. Nothing like a doggy treat in the morning to get the day off to a great start.
I want to end with an incisive reader comment in Globe today. The reader suggests that Superintendent Johnson lead by example and go into one of those “Scarlet F” schools and show the teachers how it is done. Great idea.
ps: By the way, is Larry Harmon still writing those nameless/faceless/Voice of God omnipotent education editorials? Please note he has also now been given op ed real estate to write on other issues. But, sigh, there is still no room for critics at the inn! Actually there is less room them ever, because Globe staff have so much to express.