Thursday, August 6, 2020

GA: Bad Cover-Up Management In Times Of Crisis

For years, I worked for an administration whose philosophy about any problematic or controversial issue was, "If we don't talk about it, the public won't notice and this will all blow over in a while."

It was a terrible management philosophy, not just because it was dishonest and unfair, but because it failed. It failed hard. Every. Single. Time.

See? Doesn't everything look better now?
People always found out, and they always got upset about the exact things administration was afraid they'd get upset about. And on top of that, they were upset that administration had been trying to hide problems instead of solve them or share them with the affected parties, which in turn meant that they had zero trust in leadership moving forward. It just always ended poorly, and yet, administration never learned.

We're seeing some of that already with the news out of Georgia, where a couple of photos of unmasked students crowded wall to wall in the hall made Paulding County schools look pretty--well, not good. Buzzfeed (yes, you really have to start taking them seriously as a news outlet) has the whole story so far.

The school's nurse had already quit over the policy. Football players at North Paulding had already tested positive. And the first day of school was a scary mess. The superintendent responded to the photo by offering "context" i.e. saying, "Hey, it happens. Not really anything we can do." The district has characterized mask wearing as a "personal choice," though students have reportedly pointed out that the school is perfectly comfortable with enforcing the length of shorts and the visibility of bra straps. The school has also reportedly been clear that staying home from school could result in suspension or expulsion.

Of course, only one other bad management move was missing, and that shoe dropped today-- the school suspended students who posted pictures of the opening clusterfarpfegnugen, and threatened the student body if anyone dared to be critical of the school on social media. The suspensions were rationalized by a school policy against posting pictures of minors on social media, which is fairly common and sensible policy, though as one student pointed out, not enforced every single time the issue comes up. The "no criticism" rule has, at present, not been justified-- nor will it ever be, because the law is mighty clear on the issues of student personal expression, even if that expression makes schools sad. Twitter posts today say that teachers have also been warned not to be critical of the school on social media. Good luck with that.

The school's position is bullshit from just about every angle, but I expect that North Paulding will be the last school we hear defend a policy of "Just shut up and try not to make our bad choices look bad."

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