Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Best Education Reporter? Diette Courrege!

Perhaps you missed the P & C's ad touting the award given to the reporter who covers CCSD for the paper. That's right. It was on page 8A of last Wednesday's edition.

To quote: "Courrege was awarded a second prize in small media or market for 'Beat Reporting' for her extensive work covering Charleston County schools."

"Among the stories reviewed by the judges were Courrege's coverage of the threat of state takeover of Burke High School, parents undertaking intense fundraising efforts for schools, turn-around efforts at failing North Charleston High School and parents lying about their addresses to get into Buist Academy."

To be fair to Diette, she usually gets her facts straight, such as they are, and her stories are well written from the standpoint of style. Furthermore, "beat" reporting is not "investigative" reporting, another category of award which obviously would have been inappropriate for her to enter.

I assume the purpose of such an award, given by the National Education Writers Association since the 1960s, is to promote excellent reporting about education. If you knew nothing about the situation "on the ground," so to speak, except what you had read in Courrege's articles in 2006, maybe you would believe she should get an award. Because she appears to have come to Charleston straight out of college (LSU) without prior knowledge of the Lowcountry, a place hardly the same as Baton Rouge, maybe we can excuse her willingness to accept at face value what CCSD tells her.

What IS annoying, however, is the P & C's ad for itself at the bottom:

"Award-winning journalism that makes

a difference

The Post and Courier

Because Knowing

Makes a Difference"

Knowing makes a difference, all right, as many of you have attested!


Anonymous said...

And what do you know about journalism, Babble? At least Diette Courrege puts her name to what she writes.

You're spineless.

awc said...

While I would never call someone spineless for simply posting boldness with anonymity, I do believe the postings here would carry much more weight if we were to all put our names on our comments.
I also respect Babbie for maintaining anonymity if any of her comments threaten her job security.
Personally, I enjoy my anonymity...yet I'll come out, if others will...

Anonymous said...

Ouch, Babbie -
You're pretty tough on you think she's really calling the shots over there?
Afterall, how many of the parents at the Post and Courier send their kids to CCSD's lovely magnet schools?

Babbie said...

Actually my point is that she DOESN't call the shots. Maybe I was too subtle.

And to the first commenter--Diette is doing what she is PAID to do. Putting her name to it is not a choice for her. In fact, I'm sure she would be quite unhappy if her name weren't on her stories.

ex post carrier said...

Babbie has spoken the bitter truth and with no sugar on the side. Diette occupies a desk that is all too often held by an inexperienced newcomer who is just putting in the time waiting to be on their way to something better. Just like our public school leadership, the powers that be are determined to hire 2nd tier, novices or soon-to-be-moving-on people to fill critically important positions. It's great for building their resumes and CV's but it leaves the rest of us frustrated when we see these "beat" reporters continue to miss the big picture time after time. As for the P&C, with few exceptions, it takes the cake among its peers for setting the lowest standards for reporting local news. There is a well known story that has circulated here about just how low the expectations are at the Postscript and Courier. When a truly good experienced writer for a large urban newspaper from "Off" applied for a job here, the applicant reportedly was called in to meet the owner/publisher at the time, Peter Manigault. After reviewing this writer's obviously great credentials, Mr. Manigault, as the story goes, is said to have shocked the applicant by asking the individual outright, "With a resume like yours, why in the hell would you want to work for a two bit paper like ours in a dump like Charleston?" I don't recall if the writer accepted the job after that, but a former reporter for the local paper repeated the story to me not long ago. When the city's top leadership across the board repeatedly sets such low expectations to begin with, we eventually get (and give) no more than what is required.

Anonymous said...

Those who can't do, teach - right? Wando High's lucky to have you, Bable.

Anonymous said...

Get over it Diette! A reporter should have a thicker skin.

Anonymous said...

Nice try, but like most of what's posted on this site, you're wrong.

You're one sad individual, Bable. Dinner for one, is it?

Anonymous said...

If what is said on this site is so wrong, why is it that after nearly six months (quite nearly a year) of almost non-stop postings about the inequities between Buist and Charleston Progressive, Diette and the P&C finally does some investigative reporting? Like Goodloe said to a blogger in Seattle, Diette and her bosses say they brush off blogs like this one. She says she either doesn't read them or she gives them little regard because they're written anonymously or the postings are "unsubstantiated" or "unfactual". Never mind that the P&C often prints wild assertions like that of Joe Darby who said he speaks for “10,000” members of the Ministerial Alliance. The fact is Diette sits on stories involving schools, despite being given access to more data than any other single person or elected body has had concerning District 20. When she finally covers the issues, especially those directly relating to downtown schools, it's often old news. Again, if I am to judge her depth of understanding based only on the specific text and context of the stories that are published under her name, she lacks a broad view of the big picture.

Anonymous said...

Until you can back up your accusations with facts and examples - and have the guts to put your name to them - your ramblings will remain just, well, ramblings.

You didn't even put your screen name to the previous post. Tell the people who you are, Bable. Maybe then you'll gain some credibility.

Anonymous said...

In response to the poster who said "Babble" is "spineless" and enjoys "dinner for one", I think these comments speak volumes for why a blog like this is good. And why it is necessary to let people speak anonymously. In a perfect world we could all lay our opinions and concerns on the table and expect to be treated equally and politely. This is far from a perfect world.

It would be a fair guess to assume that every single person who has dared to speak out about the problems in our public schools has suffered some sort of repercussion for having challenged the system. Even those who propose changes like charter schools or innovative new ideas have been agressively targeted by CCSD. Some may not be aware of what it has already cost them, but they have paid a price nonetheless. Not only have teachers and mid-level administrators had their jobs threatened for speaking out on the same issues discussed on this blog, but retaliation has extended far beyond the walls of CCSD and its current employment rolls. It has involved indirect measures taken against private employers of non-CCSD personel, their children, spouses and even neighbors, customers and clients. Innuendo can be a more dangerous and effective weapon than direct confrontation.

Nancy Cook is widely known to often resort to character assassinations of those she dislikes during official discussions and during executive sessions with county board members. Even as Chairman of the County School Board she often strays (inappropriately and illegally) far from the published agenda. By not objecting, the other members of the board have by default acquiesced and in their silence approved of this damaging and unprofessional behavior. That's what it is if they give even casual consideration to the ethical standards of most professions. These are important rules that are supposed to be deeply ingrained in the psychy of all lawyers, real estate agents and accountants, and is in also found in state law in guiding the conduct of public officials who must conduct the public's business behind closed doors.

In another example of this use of personal attacks against others, Jerry Adams was a publisher, in a prior life and just before he took the job as CCSD's hatchet man. His publication was a "crime" oriented weekly newspaper in Columbia that was more aptly described as a scandal driven yellow rag. One of his targets, an employee of state government, was reportedly driven into a total breakdown, if not suicide. Jerry "retired" and closed down his paper shortly after he was sued for violating a copyright to which he responded in print by challenging the mental sanity of the photographer whose work he allegedly stole.

City Hall and the Greater Charleston Chamber of Commerce have each in their own way participated in this type of scorched earth attack on the critics of CCSD and its surrogates. With Goodloe in the superintendent’s seat, the NAACP and the Ministerial Alliance have joined in a very unusual coalition (including the White conservative power structure and the traditional "organized" Black challengers). These middle class BUMPpies" [Black Upwardly Mobile Professionals] have made it clear that civil rights is no longer as important as "it's my turn to screw all y'all". The Joe's and Dot's gladly perform as street thugs in support of this axis of power. Just ask any parent of Burke, Fraser or Charleston Progressive student who has attempted to speak out. They have saddly had to experience the crab pot theory of getting ahead in the Black community. Individuals are highly expendable if someone deemed more important is threatened.

Anyone who questions “getting on the(ir) bus” or who finds inconsistencies in the “Plan for Excellence” is not just labeled “not a team player”, but they become "the enemy". It will be interesting to see if Dot Scott and Joe Darby remain on board with this arrangement now that their bird has flown the coop. If the checks from CCSD keep coming and there are enough jobs handed out to familiar faces, they will probably tone down their attacks on the new superintendent. Though with the visceral statements that have already been made by them, it would look like a total turnaround.

No one needs to explain how the Charleston County School District, or any school district, is by its nature a constant rumor factory. In Charleston this is particularly dangerous when we have so many malicious people running the system, not just those working at the lower levels. As with any large bureaucracy, there are many who depend on it continuing "just as it is". For CCSD this would mean most of its employees because "change is bad". Some see challenges to the system as direct assaults on their personal security. In some cases this may even be true, as it should be in the event of institutional incompetence and corruption. Institutions often circle their wagons to defend themselves against what is seen as an attack on their authority and the status quo.

It takes more than single individuals to sustain a challenge to the authority and status quo of something as large as CCSD. With so prolific a writer as "Anonymous" (and the others like "Babbie" who contribute to the extensive writings of “Anonymous”), maybe a small band of scattered and truly anonymous individuals can safely effect positive change for our public schools.

Thanks Babbie. Sometimes "dinner for one" is sufficient. It can even be quite elegant and entertaining.

memminger1945 said...

To the 12:35 PM poster, I assume by "previous post" you meant "anonymous at 11:59 AM". Thanks for the compliment! It wasn't a post by "Babbie" at all. If you must know it was a post by "Memminger1945". Thanks for mentioning it. I forgot to use my "screen name".

D20 parent said...

To those that may have been referred here from the Seattle PI blog, “Educating Mom”, Goodloe-Johnson has not been a supporter of change (except to play the numbers on test scores and report cards). Kids and parents don't count in spite of all the slogans. As for the lead editorial in today's P&C (Sun., May 27) it might give the false impression that G-J has supported the efforts to establish a charter school for math and science at a nearly vacant downtown former high and middle school. On her orders it was made vacant in 2005 with false promises about improving a failing middle school by combining it with a failing high school. She also offered promises for a quick return to the vacant building once the middle school improved. Her support for the community has been quite the opposite. She worked against the community group that has very actively crossed racial and economic lines to win grassroots community's approval. It may well bring middle class blacks and a significant number of private school kids long absent back into the public school system. G-J tried to stack the public meeting and rigidly control its voice through a tightly monitored structure that allowed very little feed back. What she didn't anticipate was that the charter school group turned out in large numbers. Voices from both whites and blacks were heard to passionately support the proposed academic and science oriented charter school. The only wise move by the administration was to finally speak its long ignored promise to restore college prep courses to the historically (and still) black Burke HS. Not even a large number of non-resident school district employees scattered throughout the crowd as Dist. 20 “stakeholders” or the race baiting leaders of a moribund local chapter of the NAACP could overcome the well developed community based support for this program. So don't think this is an example of G-J working with the local community for creative alternatives in education. That's never been her style, at least not here.