Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden. In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fact checking the Miami Herald's dubious claims on Education: Over the weekend, I unexpectedly found myself forced to 'school' the Herald's Executive Editor after she bragged about the Herald's coverage of Education. I had to bring up some inconvenient facts rebutting that claim

A Miami Herald vending machine in front of the Denny's restaurant on West Hallandale Beach Blvd., Hallandale Beach, FL, right near one of the city's two infamous red-light cameras. (Now the daily price for a Herald is 75 cents, of course, not the 50 cents depicted in photo.) July 3, 2011 photo by South Beach Hoosier© 2012 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

On Sunday morning, in going thru the Miami Herald's crummy and uninspiring website, mostly  making mental notes about all the stories that should've been present eight weeks before national, state and local elections take place -but WEREN'T-  rather than looking for something in particular that I was expecting to be there, I came up short when I clicked "Opinion" and saw something there that was as objectively false as anything I'd seen in the paper this year. http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/#navlink=navbar

You see it was there that I first came across Herald Executive Editor Aminda Marques' piece about the Herald's coverage of education policy, and in my opinion, bragging about something she had no business bragging about. That is, IF facts and reality matter.
They still do to me, what about you?

If I'd had a few minutes to really think it through, I'd have actually posted the knowing response below to my blog right away instead of placing it on the Herald's website, since more people would likely see it here sooner than in that Herald article, since depending upon how many comments the original article garnered, my experience in talking to other people is that most people won't read more than whatever comments happen to be on that particular page, depending upon whether your default setting is Most Recent or chron order of first comments to most recent. 
Me, I read all comments of articles I find of interest in chron order.


Now perhaps it was because I'd already had more Hazelnut-flavored coffee than I should've yesterday morning, while lisitening to the network TV morning chat shows on in the background while checking out my usual Sunday morning media breakfast buffet on the computer. 

The only thing that was different this time than the past few months was that I had to be sure not to get too engrossed in something I was reading once This Week in South Florida with Michael Putney ended, since I needed to swing by the store and pick up some bags of ice on the way to catch the Dolphins 2012 season-opener in Houston at my sister's place out in Pembroke Pines, and not be late for the 1 p.m. kickoff.

(As usual, the part of the drive from Hallandale Beach to Flamingo Road in Pembroke Pines via Pembroke Road that was the worst stretch, even on a Sunday afternoon, was between Washington Park in Hollywood and  University Drive in The Pines. The reason? The number of speeding drivers who ride-on-your -bumper when you're doing the speed limit out-numbers safe drivers like me by a factor of 3:1. Some day, I know I'll see a cop on that stretch giving speeding tickets, but after all these years, still nothing as of yesterday! Some day though...)



Miami Herald
Why everyone — parent or not — should care about education coverage
By Aminda Marques Gonzalez
In Print September 9, 2012

Two weeks into the school year and The Miami Herald education team has as much on its to-do list as most children returning to school.

The Miami-Dade school system is putting a $1.2 billion bond referendum before voters, money that would be used to repair aging schools and upgrade technology. The Broward school district is struggling with a troubled transportation system that has left scores of children without rides. The embattled Florida education commissioner resigned weeks before the start of a new term.

Few topics we cover have as broad an impact as education.

“Anyone who has a child in school feels so close to the news,” said Charlene Pacenti, The Miami Herald’s education editor. “Does my school have a leaky roof? Does my child’s classroom have the technology it needs? Is my child’s bus going to come on time? — these are the issues they care about.”

Beyond the parents of school-age kids, what happens in the classroom and at the school district touches the entire community, from the homeowners whose property taxes support our educational system to the business community, which has made education a touchstone of economic growth.

No one is better poised to provide substantive, unbiased schools coverage than The Miami Herald education team. Our coverage is led by Pacenti, a 20-year news veteran with school-age daughters. She also oversees MomsMiami.com, which she helped launch.

Reporter Laura Isensee covers the Miami-Dade school district and Michael Vasquez covers Broward schools and higher education. Both bring years of experience in government reporting to the education beat, as well as an ability to explain how local, state and national policies affect children, parents and teachers. For live coverage, follow Isensee on Twitter at @LauraIsensee and Vasquez at @mrmikevasquez. Pacenti tweets using @MomsMiami.

Parental engagement in education issues has risen dramatically, Pacenti said, fueled by cuts to school budgets across the state.

“Parents are getting involved like I have never seen,” she said. “They have an appetite for this news. They are sharing it and they are acting on it.”

This year’s coverage will focus on three key issues: the Miami-Dade bond referendum and the state of schools in Broward; the introduction of new federal “common core” standards as the FCAT is phased out; and the role of technology in education.

“Education is fundamental,” Isensee said. “It’s so important how well we’re educating students and preparing the next generation. I care about those things. It’s why I wanted to be a journalist in the first place, to tell stories that shape people’s lives.”

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My response, such as it was on the spur-of-the-moment is here:
Ms. Marques, how many emails have I sent you and Rick Hirsch and other key Herald managers and editors over the past few years, and posted on my blog, asking a simple question of you all: WHY do you all persist in using the personnel and technology you have in the strange way you do that does NOT take full advantage of either the personnel or technology, which regularly cheats readers out of useful content? Here are some facts that you seem to want regular Herald readers to ignore:

In the year 2012, the Herald STILL has no Education blog. Is there a newspaper in this country with your circulation size that DOESN'T? I doubt it. Now, if something important happens involving Education, especially up in Tallahassee, it appears on the Naked Politics blog, which while slightly better than it had been for years, is NOT the place that anyone goes to read about Education policy news. But because you lack an Education blog, you stick it there. Bad idea.
You've STILL never replaced the former Public Ombudsman, Edward Schumacher-Matos, who left well over a year ago for D.C. and NPR, someone whom you NEVER gave a blog to so he could update columns and comment on breaking stories or controversies. Because he was NOT even a regular Sunday feature, often, entire MONTHS would go by in between columns, and at that point, the stories he wrote about were either forgotten -or hidden behind the Herald's archives pay-wall. How is that any way to engage the public???
While you DO run a Gay blog on the website, it seems more like a pep squad or bulletin board for Gay interests rather than an objective news outlet that shows Gays here are like everyone else in South Florida: some good, some bad, most apathetic like everyone else down here. Unfortunately, on that blog, Gays are either heroes or victims but they're never anything else. It's unrealistic.
For reasons that nobody can figure out, you persist in posting Spanish-language blogs on the Herald's website instead of having them at El Herald.
I could go on... and have gone on with lots of specificity in those emails I've sent you and others at One Herald Plaza. And yet you do nothing...and the unsatisfactory status quo persists. 
Honestly, it's time you folks making the final decisions look in the mirror and figure out a way to make the Herald's print and website content better and more useful to readers who want to be engaged before you become even more irrelevant to South Florida.
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By the way, just for the record, on Sept. 24, 2010, I sent several members of the Herald's management team an email noting that the Herald had neglected to effectively report on the search for a replacement for then-Broward School Board General Counsel Ed Marko -in place since 1968!- and had yet to mention the candidates being considered as Marko's replacement for that important and high-paying job.
I noted in that Sept. 24th email that the last time the Herald even mentioned Marko leaving was Nov. 3, 2009.
Nearly 11 months!

Some of you newer readers to the blog might never have seen my past emails to Herald management -and my subsequent posting to my blog- taking them to task for the downward spiral that prevents real news from ever appearing in print like it used to, especially local government stories.
You might want to read the following to consider yourself brought up to speed.
May 21, 2012 - What's going on at the Miami Herald? More than a year after the last one fled, the Herald still lacks an Ombudsman -and shows no sign of getting one- to represent readers deep concerns about bias, misrepresentation and flackery on behalf of South Florida's powerful & privileged at the Herald. And that's just one of many unresolved problems there...
December 21, 2011 - For another consistently lousy year of journalism at the Miami Herald, esp. covering Broward County, more lumps of coal in the Christmas stocking of One Herald Plaza -Part 1
December 21, 2011 -Part 2 of More lumps of coal in the Christmas stocking of One Herald Plaza for another consistently lousy year of journalism at the Miami Herald, esp. covering Broward County

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