Tony: Local Back to School Reporting Provides Effective PR Lesson

The Kansas City, Missouri School District has started the year with an impressive volley of public relations efforts attempting to sway the conversation in their favor.

For the most part, the media has been complicit in this PR effort.

Tragically, in more than a year of energetic campaigning by School Board member Airick L. West and Superintendent John Covington, preliminary test scores reveal little effect in local classrooms.

Like it or not, it takes more than great PR to turn around a School District that has been in decline for more than a generation.

And I sense that West & Co. have never really understood the nature of the media that will tolerate PR stories as long as something noteworthy, interesting and negative is soon on the way. Like so many reformers, West seems to expect only upbeat tales of his good work without reveling in the nasty rivalries that make media stories interesting. Maybe that says something really inspiring about him but good feelings don’t make ratings.

To wit, it only took a day for all of the so-called “progress” in the KCMSD to fall apart. A single complaint from the mother of a disabled son who couldn’t make it to class depicts the KCMSD back at square one. Meanwhile, the KCMSD denies firing a teacher because of a paperwork glitch and only seems to reinforce their contentious relationship with the Teacher’s Unions.

At the outset of the school year the only thing that’s clear is that turning around the district requires more than good media relations. KCMSD officials have closed schools, played for the cameras and continue to push their agenda to the press.

Unfortunately, so much of their effort has little to do with what’s going on in the classroom where test scores, dropout rates and dissatisfaction remain high.

Tony Botello

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7 Responses to Tony: Local Back to School Reporting Provides Effective PR Lesson

  1. Anonymous says:

    Greg Gagne

  2. Anonymous says:

    The KC School District, has been, and is, internationaly infamous for 40 years. West just got here. How about we give the Marshall time to inform the cowboys they can’t strap in the saloon anymore?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Television stations are just being opportunistic with these predictable ‘gotcha’ stories. The lady whose kid didn’t get a nurse? That can happen in a big district like this, first few days of school. Trouble is, people draw big conclusions on these little tattle stories.

    The REAL stories aren’t the small exceptions or what stunts the leadership is doing. The real stories are in the classrooms where innovation and learning happen. Television doesn’t have staff OR a decent relationship with the schools to cover our children’s education.

    Especially ‘investigative’ Channel 5 is like 60 minutes. Never let them in. They’re like cops. They don’t love you! They’re in the business of catching people with their pants down (well except for sponsors… THEY get good press.)

    Television could do a great deal to inform its viewers about good parenting, what’s goin on with their kids when they’re at school. But TV isn’t into holding a mirror up to the community. It’s into ratings, most cheaply done with close-ups on the dirt in the corner, and on smoke & mirrors.

  4. Anonymous says:

    mark x

    A standing O !

  5. Anonymous says:

    I haz brian

    Stating the obvious but well said. Let us not forget the other media outlets whom as well are guilty of such slock reporting. BL – It’s all about the dough. Always is and always will be.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Johnny Utah
    “it’s all about the money”

    come on. you can say that about anything. it’s intellectually lazy.

    let’s be honest and blame the parents of the kids in the KCMO district. That’s Covington’s next step in reform, and the audience won’t like to hear it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I haz brian
    Lazy? So is not capitalizing your sentences. Yes it may be lazy but why debate the obvious. This problem doesn’t only exist here in D-bag land but coast to coast.

    And since you can read Covington’s mind what did he have for lunch yesterday? Lets just see how it plays out.

    I’ll be your huckleberry Johnny Ringo

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