Mason Puts on a Smiling Face: The Neurosis of Expectation

For people who think I’m saying too much regarding parents that are addicted to their kid’s school programs, check this video from Charlotte North Carolina that was shot just Friday night, January 38, 2011

Now, before people tell me this is an isolated incident, I’ve seen this kind of thing in the stands of many sporting activities, maybe not an all out fight, but tempers flare and there is a fine line between this kind of behavior and people who keep their tempers in check, because the desire is still present. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Friday night football or a basketball game, or a Saturday afternoon soccer game, too many parents feeling their own lives have passed them by get caught living through their children, and emotions like what started that fight permeate in the hearts of many spectators, whether they act on those violent thoughts or if it comes out of them in some other, less direct fashion.

It’s kind of an ugly reality of the human mind that does not get discussed in PR campaigns for passing tax levies, where pay for play sports is often a contentious topic because it’s something that parents who have kids going to these schools want, so emotions sometimes get heated.

But lately Mason and the Lakota School Districts are adapting their levy promotional strategies into a softer, less confrontational approach after the defeat of two consecutive levies at Lakota, and the first in a long time in Mason. Now that the advocates of further taxation on the district’s residents realize that there is a real danger that the strategies in the past won’t work in the future, they are attempting to “soften” their image.

Scott Sloan and Tracy Jones had on a Mason Representative to do just that a few days after a very contentious School Board Meeting where deep cuts were announced to the school budget. Have a listen:

That is a unique interview in its PR value. It displays a change in strategy and a recognition that the school system needs to actually work to please the community instead of behaving with a top down approach. However, until these administrators begin to discuss the trouble they’ve locked the communities into regarding aggressive wages and benefits that are bankrupting districts with pleasant talk and selling themselves as redeemers of our children’s future and therefore infinite amounts of money should be tossed carelessly in their direction, nothing of any substance will change.

Their voices may be softer, but the arrogance and cover-up is still there. These are people craving for things to always be as they have been. What they are not seeing is that spending over $10,000 per pupil in the State of Ohio is the breaking point, and citizens aren’t willing to pay that much for an “average” product.

Sure, I know that these districts are rated “excellent.” But what does that really mean? Who is giving the ratings? The State! And the State has an incentive to keep things rolling in the mind of the public. They need schools like Mason, and Lakota to be rated excellent for their own political reasons, so those designations don’t mean a whole lot.

When I say the education is mediocre, I’m basing that on other methods and output that I’ve been personally witness to. I don’t see the light on in the eyes of too many students that I meet, and that is sad to me. If that’s what the parents of those students want, that’s fine with me. But don’t ask the community to spend 10K on mediocrity.

I will make a bold prediction. Before 2011 runs out, the world that educators like this spokesman in Mason understand will be radically turned upside down and funding perceptions will be dismantled.

That will happen not to hurt any particular group. But it will happen because communities are going to put “children” ahead of selfishness, and communities are looking into the future of school funding, which we all have to sustain for long periods of time, not just quarter to quarter, or levy to levy.

As seen in the above video emotions can get out of control when sports are combined with education and all those elements are tacked onto the backs of already stressed out tax payers. Most of our society has enjoyed the entertainment value of that marriage, but often those two issues don’t advance the educational value of the learning process, and at some point the value of those combinations have to be analyzed. Sports aren’t the only program schools offer that stir the emotions of parents. Band, art, several other electives designed for college prep, and busing can all have the same effect when schools threaten to pull the funding from under those programs. And the design of cutting off funding is to bring out those raw, primitive emotions seen in that video which pit community member against community member with the goal of preserving the status quo. The intent is not violence, but rather emotion that finds its release in the voting booth.

Speaking softly with a public relations consciousness won’t hide the true intentions. It’s just the latest attempt to spin people around so those same people can’t see the truth. But the truth can see those mutterers of PR for what they truly are, salesman for a product that’s too expensive and out of touch.

Rich Hoffman!/overmanwarrior