I made a jackass out of myself on Twitter last week. Here’s how it went:
All this blind support for the new #Boston Public Schools superintendent is pathetic. You had somebody thrust upon you with barely any input and are pretending it’s okay. Outrage fatigue I guess. What a bunch of pushovers. #bospoli #BPS
I meant it. Hell, I mean it. But it was stupid and insensitive, since BPS parents are the last people around here who deserve criticism. I may not have intended to insult to all of the parents and guardians who struggle with fractured public schools day in and day out, year after year, but in review there’s no doubt that my words could have been construed that way.
In the interest of being totally honest in this half-apology, I’ll attempt to explain where my comment originated (other than my gut, which you may already realize). After I’d commiserated with all kinds of student advocates and parents about the sham of a search process, in which the public was presented with three finalists out of nearly 40 applicants, I was simply shocked to see the somewhat positive reactions of so many factions and organizations following the school board’s decision.
There were the parents from Quality Education for Every Student:
[QUEST] congratulates [former Minnesota education commissioner] Dr. Brenda Cassellius on her selection as Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools (BPS) … [and] hope[s] that the selection … will create an opening for new forms of communication, collaboration and mutual support between District leadership and key BPS stakeholders. “We were concerned about the process leading to this decision but are cautiously optimistic about the choice of Dr. Cassellius,” said Harneen Chernow, a parent of two children in the system.
And the Boston Student Advisory Council:
We are thrilled to welcome Brenda Cassellius … For the first time ever, a YOB/BSAC member sat on the selection committee for the superintendent as an equal partner with school committee members, the BTU president, teachers, and parents.
And the Boston Coalition for Education Equity, which was the harshest of the bunch but still found a silver lining:
We are dismayed at the process itself and disappointed in its implementation by the school committee. … However, despite this flawed process, most of our organizations believe that one of the finalists–Dr. Brenda Cassellius–has demonstrated that she has the experience necessary to be an effective leader in advancing equity and educational quality in the Boston Public Schools.
And of course the BPS’ own release, the most positive of all:
“All three superintendent candidates brought excellent ideas and experience to the discussion. … I thank all of them for participating in this public process,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto.
I think it was that last one that finally set me off; in addition to pretending there were only three applicants, the taxpayer-funded BPS PR apparatus quoted interim Superintendent Laura Perille, who was unilaterally tapped by Mayor Marty Walsh. As if we haven’t heard enough from her already.
As many people said in different ways to set me straight, parents haven’t let their guard down. Rather, they are trying to harvest some light out of an opaque and disappointing situation. I pledge to follow their upcoming actions closely and to cover incoming Superintendent Cassellius fairly, since she deserves a chance and shouldn’t be blamed for the inadequate search process.
In the meantime, I apologize to anyone who I offended. You are not pathetic. My lazy, thoughtless tweet, on the other hand, certainly was.
CHRIS FARAONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.