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Monday, March 30, 2015

Stealing the Impossible?: On the Near-Media Silence on Saturday's Rally

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Zephyr Teachout at the Rally

A certain Educator from NYC pointed out to me the other day that there was next-to-no news coverage of the March 28th protest to protect our public schools (the exception being news at Common Dreams and CBS Local).  Although the relative silence is unnerving, given the media biases throughout the Bloomberg years, one is hardly surprised.  Not only does Success buy a lot of advertising time (thanks to the generous donations of sponsors largely unlike us), they seem to get much more for free.

Let us look back at the coverage of the "dueling rallies" on March 4th in Albany.  Eva carted her students there and conducted the rally during class time, something which could never happen with our more than a million district children.  Her sea of red shirts captured the attention of the media.

On the Day of the Dueling Rallies, the NY Post clearly favored the Success Academy students.  The Post reinforced this fact with editorials.  To top it off, the Post exclusively used images of Success Academy kids.  

Both the NY Times and the NY Daily News referred to the dueling March 4th rallies.  Both news sources balanced the viewpoints from both sides, but both, again, relied solely upon the red images of Success.  

In "A Charter School Rally Duels With Teachers' Unions in Albany," the Times chose to use the image below.  In its defense, it noted that "The far flashier of the dueling demonstrations was the charter event, held in a park just outside the Capitol, where video screens and banks of speakers created a rock-concert atmosphere, despite gray skies and thousands of out-of-school children milling on snow-covered lawns."  The Success kids even danced in their red shirts.    

The Daily News featured a story on the March 4th rally entitled "City charter kids, teachers union participate in dueling education rallies at Capitol."  The News included two pictures of the Success Academy rally, one of Ashanti performing before a sea of red and another picture of a few kids in red holding up a sign.  They could just have easily balanced their reporting by showing a public-school defender holding up his or her sign.  They did not.

When push comes to shove with the presentation of public schools in the media, one is far more likely to find a story on one aberrant teacher than a story on thousands of people holding signs and chanting to defend the interests of public-school children.  In this spirit, the media turned a near-deaf ear to the March 28th protest.

I once asked my union rep. if he might not ask the next up the line to see if public-school teachers might designate one color citywide on one day of the protest week, March 9-13.  I told him it would be much more powerful than having each school designate differing colors on different days.  

He checked up the line.  He reported back to me that he was told each school is free to choose its own color--as if it were a good thing.  This seemed to me to be a cop out on a grand scale at a time when we are fighting for our very existence.  Although I would never want to force anyone to wear a shirt of one specific color, there is great power in encouraging thousands of concerned members to voluntarily act as one.  It would make our presence seem vast and strong, and only at the cost of our choice of wardrobe for a day.  Yet, our Union seemed unwilling to do so.  Someone lacks imagination.

Imagine more than a million kids and teachers all on the same page.  Do you think for one moment our million District kids cannot dance or sing?  Our best could show Eva's best a thing or two.  When you have a million, despite underfunding, talent not only shines, it blazes.  What if we put all our kids in shirts of the same color?  Do you think for one moment it wouldn't overwhelm her puny sea of red?  "Success" then might be counted as no more than a drop in the bucket.  Might it not be harder for the media and our opponents to look the other way then?

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