How not to respond to angry parents and concerned legislators (the AIM saga continues)

[UPDATE: After getting some feedback this morning, I've changed a few words in the sixth paragraph. It's more accurate now. When someone points out a mistake in this blog, I try to fix it quickly. In this case, within three hours. If only Dr. Hairston and BCPS were so responsive and so concerned about truth and transparency. I submitted a long list of AIM questions to BCPS/Greenwood two or three weeks ago. I still haven't gotten a response.]

In the wake of Superintendent Joe Hairston's recent visit with the PTA, BCPS communications staffer Charles Herndon tried to smooth things over with a
letter to the Forge Flyer. It starts:
Dr. Hairston was gracious enough to meet with the [Baltimore County PTA] Council
Gracious? It was not gracious of Dr. Hairston to meet with the PTA. It's his job to meet with important constituencies of the school system. Maybe Mr. Herndon meant the least common meaning of gracious:
Condescendingly courteous; indulgent
Yes, that captures it. Dr. Hairston often treats key stakeholders, such as the county's top-level PTA, like ignorant kids. As Jean Suda put it after the PTA Council meeting with Dr. Hairston:
I left . . . with the impression of having watched an old episode of "Father Knows Best." [Dr. Hairston] was there to hear us, but not to listen in a way that might lead to any modification of his thinking. . . . If we don't agree with him, there must be something wrong with us.
Dr. Hairston, we don't like being treated this way.

Mr. Herndon continues:
Above all, Dr. Hairston tried during the meeting to bring two things to the discussion that have been sorely missing – context and accurate information.
Accurate information has indeed been sorely missing. Because, except for some Orwellian "straight talk" like this, Greenwood doesn't give us much information.

Parents [Many people, including parents and politicians,] were so upset by [after reading Jean's account of] the PTA council meeting that [according to a well-connected observer] state legislators [stepped up the] pressured [on] Dr. Hairston and two Board of Ed members (JoAnn Murphy and Ed Parker) to answer questions at a hearing in Annapolis last Thursday. After receiving a few hours of Dr. Hairston's "accurate information, " state delegates and senators responded with comments such as these:
  • "Was that a yes or a no, Dr. Hairston?"
  • "You sound like President Clinton parsing the definition of 'is'."
  • "I'm very disappointed that you've been pleading the Fifth all over the place."
  • "None of you [Hairston, Murphy and Parker] seem to want to answer our questions."
Something is wrong here--really, really wrong. I'm still not sure exactly what it is, but I hope to find out.

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