Tips for Talking with the Media
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Note: When speaking with parents, community leaders and the media, remember that there are no "failing schools." This is NOT official language being used by anyone at the state or federal level and every effort needs to be made to correct use of that language by other educators, members of the media, community leaders, parents, etc. The schools "on the list" are those "in need of improvement" or are "under-performing."
“It is important to note the law does not use the term 'failing' schools," according to Rod Paige, Secretary of Education. "In some cases, schools identified as 'in need of improvement' may, in fact, be succeeding in some measures," he said. "What's important is that we know these schools are capable of getting better results for their students."
Tips for Talking with the Media about AYP
· Prepare media packets and include facts, figures, and program information about your school or district. Include annual reports and/or other easy-to-understand publications. Have these materials on hand at all times.
· Once you know the results of your Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report, determine three key messages and prepare related talking points to make sure these messages are concisely and consistently presented to the media.
· Include the board and staff as part of the communication team and make sure they have access to the talking points so everyone is communicating the same messages.
· Hold media interviews in an active program location, not the superintendent’s or principal’s office. Let them see, firsthand, the student- and teacher-driven activities that are taking place in your building(s).
· Make sure all the information you share with the media and your various publics are factual, straightforward and consistent. Stick to the facts.
· Establish an audience target before meeting with the media; get a clear message of who needs to hear the message to reach your goal.
· Use language geared toward your target audience. Use analogies or school-based stories to get your message across.
· Respond to your situation only; refrain from speculating or offering opinions about the results of other districts.
· Answer each question and then be silent. Refrain from embellishing your comments and resist subtle pressure to chat about them. Don’t dwell on the problem(s); emphasize what you are doing to improve a given situation(s).
· If the media uses negative language, do not repeat it in your response. Be mindful of negative buzzwords such as "failing."
· If a negative question is asked, "bridge" your response to the message you want to convey.
· Always remain positive. This is an opportunity to provide great clarity about what your district does and whom you serve.
· If you have questions about communicating with the media or need assistance, contact the person in your district responsible for media relations, or call Jennifer Reeve at CASB, 303.832.1000 or Jana Caldwell at CASE, 303.762.8762.