Thursday, May 05, 2005

Taking John Barton to School

A feud carried out mostly behind the scenes comes into full view on the pages of Wednesday's Palo Alto Weekly and in today's Daily News. Background of the fight goes back to an editorial penned by the Daily News' Diana Diamond that was perceived as an attack on the Palo Alto school teachers. School board member John Barton wrote a response taking Diamond to task which Barton withdrew prior to publication saying that he did not like how it was edited by the Daily News. Today the Daily News makes the case for the edits that are based on Barton's misstating what Diamond's original editorial said and they do a side by side comparison of what Diamond wrote and Barton's response.

Although the Daily can be faulted for not responding sooner to Barton's complaints or providing the Weekly with their version of events, it's hard to square distortions engaged in by Barton as demonstrated by today's comparisons. In his guest opinion published in the Weekly, Barton displays a disturbing tendency to paint a picture of nearly all legitimate questions as 'attacks on teachers', even going so far as to blame them on 'the right'. He says;
"...I do not condone broad-brush attacks on an entire profession as a legitimate or constructive contribution to the dialogue on education."

Diamond's editorial dealt mostly with district policy and drew heavily on figures provided by the district's offices. It is not an attack on an entire profession. Barton engages in the broad-brush technique he deplores and proceeds to tip his toe in murky political waters with:
"...the political right sees--and fears--a growing bond between the business community and education, particularly in growth industries such as high tech. In may areas strong coalition are developing between business and education, formal or informal."
It's absurd to suggest that Diana Diamond represents the political right. So who are these conspiring bogeymen on the right that so disturb Barton? He refuses say (broad-brush anyone), but it should be blindingly evident to the least informed that the political right has zero influence in Palo Alto schools.

Barton's line of attack rests on delivering cheerleading support for teachers through sweeping generalities and appeals to emotion. Diamond may be wrong about her proposals, but at least she leaves school girl emotion out of it and relies on a fair reading of the facts.


Anonymous Smoking Jay said...

Bob, I really wish you were reaching a broader audience with these insightful (and well written, I might add) comments. Regarding your point regarding the political right having zero influence on Palo Alto schools, I laughed so hard I fell from my branch...thank God I landed in the broad brush...

5:23 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

It's down to you and me Jay.

6:35 PM  
Anonymous Smoking Jay said...

Do you want more eyeballs on this blog or is this your own personal therapy?

10:32 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Actually, I don't know how many people read this. My therapy includes not obsessing about that. More eyeballs would be fine, but the level of interest is dictated by the narrowness of the target. My promotional efforts consist of sending an email to those mentioned in my posts. Seems fair to give them a chance to reply.

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob, more than two people are reading this. At least three, if you count me.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read it, not everyday I admit, but I read it. Kudos Bob!

8:12 PM  
Blogger Enoch Choi said...

i've been subscribed since April 8, 2005 and bloglines lists at least 2 daily readers of your weblog...

12:05 AM  

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