Journalists like things simple and transparent. They fight to make records public so they can expose that which the public cannot see. They really like accountability.
So let’s say Mayor Smith plans to approve Acme Development Corp’s proposed 25-story condo in a cemetery. The reporter rifles public campaign reports, finds a $10,000 contribution from Acme to the Mayor and promptly holds him accountable on the front page.
Mayor Smith may offer an elaborate explanation, but seriously, who is buying it. Mayor Smith cleans up his act, throws Acme under the bus and nixes the condo.
School grades appeal to the former journalist in me. School failure once was hidden from view. Kids’ futures were discarded with the ho-hum regularity of afternoon thunderstorms in Florida.
But now tests are administered and the results made public. To quantify those results for parents, some states condense the data into A-F grades. Simple on the surface, they are the result of complex calculations that not only reward the top performing schools, but also the low performing schools that are making progress, especially with struggling students.
The grades are put on the front page to hold schools accountable.
School administrators whine and offer excuses, but who is buying it when most of their kids can’t even read at grade level.
So they clean up their act and get better.
It works like a charm. Check out the simple, transparent video:
About the author
Mike Thomas @MikeThomasTweet
Mike Thomas serves in the communications department, writing editorials and speeches. Prior to joining the Foundation, Mike worked for more than 30 years as a journalist with Florida Today and the Orlando Sentinel. He has written investigative projects, magazine feature stories, humor pieces, editorials and local columns. He won several state and national awards, and was named a finalist in the American Society of New Editors’ Distinguished Writing Award for Commentary/Column Writing in 2010. As a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, he wrote extensively about education reform, becoming one of its chief advocates in the Florida media. Mike graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in political science and journalism. His wife is a teacher and he has two children in public schools. Contact Mike at email@example.com