Individuals without firsthand evidence about politics or policy rely heavily on the cues provided by local activists, community leaders, and the media. The result is that media coverage has a bigger impact in large districts than in small districts. The community's reliance on local leaders and the media for cues about a district's performance reduces district leaders' ability to directly shape perceptions of system quality. This situation encourages the school leadership to emphasize visible and dramatic initiatives that will translate well to the general public.Is this true for Seattle? Certainly the media has a large amount of influence on public perception of schools. And depending upon which paper someone reads (Times or PI), the perception may vary significantly. But what about the tendency for leadership to "emphasize visible and dramatic initiatives that will translate well to the general public"? The school closure and consolidation plan was dramatic, but did not translate well to the general public. What other recent initiatives either follow or diverge from the theory presented here?
Friday, December 29, 2006
The Media, Public Perception and School Reform
I came across the following quote in a book I am reading, Spinning Wheels: The Politics of Urban School Reform by Frederick M. Hess.