The Battle for Public Opinion
By Nora Carr
As if budget woes, the H1N1 pandemic, and educating the world’s most diverse student population don’t provide enough of a challenge, manufactured crises are increasingly taking a toll on school district resources.
Examples abound, from local television news stories that treat one disgruntled parent’s complaint as evidence of districtwide incompetence to the outrage generated by President Obama’s address this fall to the nation’s schoolchildren.
While sensationalism, anger, and a growing lack of civility are common themes, the real cause is likely more insidious, and sadly familiar. Resentment, fear, prejudice, and anger often simmer unnoticed in the background, until an issue like immigration, job loss, or the election of the nation’s first black president erupts into an avalanche of hate.
Increasingly, school officials -- or their decisions -- are the targets of vicious attacks and misinformation campaigns launched via e-mail, websites, and blogs. Fueled by talk radio, these attacks then spill over to mainstream news outlets.
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