Friday, April 22, 2016

Social Studies

This week the Howard County School System has begun a much-publicized push to update their social media policy. Of course, it's easy for most of what they do to be "much-publicized" with the amount of money they spend on public relations personnel. And then there's all the free publicity they get just for being themselves. As I stated earlier in the week, I find this move to be rather hilarious. Here's why.

In recent years hcpss has consistently misused its social media accounts to further the management agenda. Examples:

  • Open letter to the community on hcpss website from former Superintendent Michael Hickey which denigrated teachers during ongoing negotiations between hcpss and HCEA. (This was actually illegal. Someone must have told them this, because it mysteriously disappeared.)
  • Open letter to the community from Christine O'Connor which was really a letter to the editor of the Sun.
  • Dr. Foose's open letter to the Howard County Delegation on her blog.
  • Christine O'Connor's "Fact Checking" post on the school system website and sent out to all parents as a part of schoolwide communications.

In the most recent case, Ms. O'Connor uses school system social media platforms to attempt to put an official spin on issues which are currently being discussed and debated in an ongoing election. No matter how you slice it, this was done with the intent of influencing the outcome of the school board election. This is a flagrant attempt to discredit candidates who are challenging the incumbents.

The Howard County Public School System has no business interfering with the Board of Education election. Period.

In addition, it's just terribly done. My high school English teachers would have sent me back to the drawing board had I tried to get away with "fact checking" that includes no independent fact checking. Where are specific, comprehensive sources? As a friend of mine said in exasperation, "You can't fact check yourself." So, not only is this an example of unethical interference in an election, it's also an example of academically indefensible work.

Not great for a school system.

I'm not in the habit of throwing the Bible at people on this blog, but I in this case a certain verse seems particularly apt.

3 “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye but fail to notice the beam in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when the beam is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 5: 3-7)

I would heartily endorse an update to the school system's social media policy if they looked to clean up their own house first.

In the meantime, you can help this endeavor along by voting on Tuesday for a better Board of Education, if you haven't already. Sometimes we all need a little push to do the right thing. Okay, maybe the school system needs a big push. You can help.


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