|PR Firms Got Some Good News
by Doug McIntyre [radio
The Hindenburg, the Titanic, Mayor Jim Hahn.
Disasters? Nah, just victims of jaundiced reporting.
If you think about it, the big Nazi gasbag nearly made it all the way to Lakehurst, New Jersey, but don't hold your breath for the newspapers to print that.
Move over, tropical oils; make room on the shelf, New Coke! Let's welcome the Los Angeles Unified School District, the latest victim of the insatiable pack of jackals that pass for today's press.
With a $10million communications budget, the LAUSD keeps adding outside consultants to spread the good news about the nation's second-largest public-school system.
Apparently, we're not quite bright enough to pick up on all the good vibes generating from South Beaudry Street. We need the help of professionals. Those killjoys at the Daily News and L.A. Times only drink from half-full glasses.
According to Victor Abalos, the newest LAUSD spin doctor, the real problem is "the two largest daily newspapers in this town would rather focus on what's wrong rather than what's working." Again, the Hindenburg did not explode in a giant fireball until it was at the docking tower in New Jersey. About 99.999percent of the trip was a stunning success. All that "Oh, the humanity" stuff was just a bunch of hooey.
Speaking of fireballs, poor Admiral Brewer has fires burning on all decks. He's sent up the distress signal and help is steaming full speed ahead! Darry Sragow has been piped aboard to develop "communication strategies and policy issues," Michael Bustamante has a six-month $90,000 contract to help with "internal communications."
And he's the perfect guy to get the LAUSD out of its $95million payroll computer catastrophe. Bustamante is a catastrophe expert, having run the communication office for recalled Gov. Gray Davis.
By all means hire that guy.
I wonder how much it's going to cost to spin away State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell's letter notifying the district that it's failed the benchmarks set under the No Child Left Behind Act?
The LAUSD is the King-Drew of school systems. All the admiral's spin doctors and all the admiral's publicists won't be able to put it together again.
Admiral Brewer seems like a good man who wants to do the right thing, and I wouldn't blame him if he longs for the days when his only worry were Soviet torpedoes. The Red Navy had nothing on the shark-infested PC waters of L.A. politics.
That we have allowed the LAUSD to collapse into the abyss will be a mark of shame on our generation. It does not have to be this way. It's not like we're asking the schools to teach kids to levitate.
Read'n and a rite'n. Simple stuff. We did it well for a hundred years. But nothing is simple in Los Angeles.
It's too bad we have earthquakes instead of hurricanes. Not that I'm rooting for a hurricane, however, the post-Katrina New Orleans public schools do offer an interesting lesson. One of the positive consequences of Katrina is a reborn system, unshackled from generations of calcified corruption.
Katrina's Cat-5 winds blew away more than the 9th Ward's levy. They displaced a corrupted and incompetent school bureaucracy that had sentenced the Big Easy's kids to languish at the bottom of the education barrel decade after decade.
The new New Orleans system has risen like a soggy Phoenix, built from scratch, unbeholden to unions, developers, contractors, suppliers, advocacy groups, paralyzing state and local regulations and an army of terra-cotta bureaucrats who sit year after year at their desks while class after class of kids fail their way to despair.
The early returns from liberated New Orleans are very promising. The LAUSD needs a metaphorical hurricane.
Campaign after campaign we're promised reform. Every candidate is the education this, the education that. Billions upon billions are spent in taxes and bond money with a pathetic return on investment. Our system suffers from systemic failure, and failure at a more fundamental level - we are loosing cultural consensus - the foundation upon which every public school is built.
We need Admiral Brewer to lead that discussion, not to employ P.R. hacks like Victor Abalos to bellyache about negative news coverage of a district that merits nothing but condemnation. If the LAUSD had a good story to tell, you wouldn't be able to stop the positive buzz. "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" became a hit on word of mouth. So would our schools. CRO
first appeared at L.A. Daily News
2006 Doug McIntyre