John Nichols’ column today is yet another example of how little attention the media in our town pay to school matters and school politics. His thesis is that Maya Cole’s support for a referendum and Marj Passman’s caution was decisive. Nice theory, too bad the premises are wrong. Of all the candidates, Marj Passman was the only one who whole-heartedly supported Carol Carstensen’s proposal. Ms Cole gave answers about finding new partnerships and efficiencies and innovations and never expressed clear support for the proposal. She may have even said she did not support it (I’d have to look at videos of forums to be sure). Examples of the answers from each can be found here.
If you ask me, the decisive factor was the endorsement by Mr. Nichols’ own paper and if this is any indication of the thought and work that went into that endorsement…words fail me.
What makes this even worse is that days before the Capital Times gave Ms Cole a “strong” endorsement (which after the election they clarified by saying they would have been “perfectly satisfied” to see either candidate win — I hope I have the time to write something about that editorial, good and bad), Mr Nichols himself expressed support for Ms Carstensen’s proposal.
I really don’t know what to make of this. I do know that our community is ill served by irresponsible journalism.
I also know that the talk of partnerships and efficiencies and innovation (none of which are bad in and of themselves) has been used to distract from the very real needs for finance reform and the need for referendums under our current system. Marj Passman knew this and said it. Ms Cole benefited from the way these distractions attracted the votes of the “we already spend too much on schools” crowd and she never (in any public statement I can find or — to the best of my recollection — at any of the many forums I attended) made a clear statement in support of Ms Carstensen’s referendum proposal.
Wipe the egg off your face and apologize Mr Nichols.
Thomas J. Mertz