School leaders should explain their policies to journalists if they want positive stories to appear in the news, argues Richard Colvin, head of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, and education consultant Gina Burkhardt in a long column in Education Week.
That’s something Chancellor Joel Klein wishes he’d done better, the authors report:
Ambitious changes that disrupt the status quo—such as, in the case of New York, issuing letter grades for schools and negotiating a contract that reduces the role of seniority in teaching assignments—require the district leadership to step out and tell the story so that the community understands the rationale behind the decisions and the outcomes that can be expected.
“We let other people characterize the changes in ways that were both inaccurate and harmful,” the New York City chancellor said ruefully. “These things are controversial, and you’re running up against people who have very sophisticated media machines … who can be counted upon to mount an effective defense.”
Colvin and Burkhardt pulled Klein’s quote from a series of video clips the chancellor recorded in March for BigThink.com, a Web site where leaders answer questions about their ideas. Klein answered 18 questions on topics ranging from the role of private philanthropy in public schools to his childhood “on the streets of New York.”