Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Campbell Challenge: #tipsforBrown

Campbell Brown's website has launched, and it is pretty much what was expected.

There were some mis-steps; a site that was going to play the Civil Rights card probably should have double-checked to make sure that they employed something other than a Big Bunch O' White Guys, particularly if Brown was going to say things like, "I was taken with the idea that a journalist could be a voice for those who don’t have one" Pro tip: if you are afraid that certain people don't have a voice and you have a four million dollar platform, you might let those folks speak on it, rather than just going ahead and speaking for them.

There are issues that Brown doesn't deserve to be slammed for. She's pretty and she used to be on the TV. These characteristics do not qualify her to be an educational expert, but they don't prove she's a dope, either. However, there are other reasons to suspect that she is not a credible authority on the ed biz.

For instance, as reported by my esteemed colleague Edushyster, word on the street is that Brown will brook no investigatorial assaults on charterdom. There is supposedly (according to a source who prefers not to cross Brown and her powerful friends) a contractual job requirement that there will be no poking about of charter hanky-panky.

Her disingenuous claim that the site will be both journalism and advocacy is just silly. It will be advocacy. It has been live less than a week and it is clearly about advocacy. That's really okay; there are an awful lot of us out here not pretending to be anything but advocates in the edubloggosphere, and I'm pretty sure the interwebs can accommodate more. As a C-level fake education journalist, I welcome more fake journalism, and not just because it gives me more fake journalism to make fun of.

But Brown's PR department has declared that the journalistic proof will be in the internet cyber-pudding. And in that spirit, the indispensable Mercedes Schneider has reached out to make an offer. If The74 is interested in ferreting out educational malfeasance wherever it does the whole head rearing thing, Schneider has offered up a juicy lead in the form of a Louisiana charter school operator who has apparently confused the charter's credit card with his own.

It's a generous offer (well, actually, Schneider called it a challenge); launching a news site is not easy, what with the need for constant new content. They've already been reduced to running a fairly hilarious Kevin Huffman piece comparing opt-outers to anti-vaxxers; I'm worried will soon be treated to pieces about the brave teachers who wrote the Common Core.

So let's help out.

I have a tip, too. Just last week I cam across this piece about a charter operator in Florida using his charter to line his own pockets in a perfectly legal but ethically dubious manner. Right now it's just a small local story, waiting for a national news outlet to bust it open. Have at it, Campbell!

In fact, I'm calling on the whole online community to help Brown out. She wants us to understand that charter schools will not be safe from her journalistic probings. Very well. Let's offer her tips.

I'd like to propose the twitter hashtag #tipsforBrown. Find a link to a promising charter scandal and pass it along to her leads that she can use to break open a story of charter fraud and malfeasance that will just prove all the naysayers wrong. It's the least we can do to help out, and I really don't want to offer more than the least.

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