Social Media Dominance

Mainstream coverage and commentary might have skewed towards Rahm Emanuel's side of the issue, at least initially when it came to the substance, but on social media, teachers and reform critics crushed the Board of Education, City Hall, and reform supporters.

This WBEZ blog post tells you about the work of Kenzo Shibata, CTU's social media director: Social media acts as megaphone and sword in CTU strike. Kenzo and his kind were more active, much more impassioned (annoyingly euphoric towards the end), and -- for better or worse -- much much more willing to be mean.

Did it make a difference to the coverage or the outcome?  It made it feel different, at the very least, for the bloggers and journalists working online. It was hard to find the parents, teachers, and community members who agreed with the Mayor's push for a longer day and lower raises, among other things, in the deluge of pro-CTU tweets and blog posts.

I don't think Kenzo was doing anything particularly obscure or difficult, it's just that other side wasn't really activated at all.

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    Compare the work of Kenzo, though, not just to CPS or the Board as the bureaucratic "other side" but to Democrats for Ed Reform, Ed Reform Now, and Stand On Children as the astroturf "movement" other side and you see that the CTU really had something special.

    Social (and mainstream) media is about the only thing these groups do. They do online petitions, twitter, facebook pages and that's about it. I went to one of their "community dialogues" earlier this year and they were able to bring fewer community members supporting their positions than CTU was able to bring educators and supporters opposing them.

    The only way way in which the CTU's opposition was able to outdo the union media-wise was in spending on paid media -- i.e. their obnoxious and racially stereotyped radio ads, which probably drove more parents into the CTU camp than attracted them.

    At some level, you're right. Kenzo Shibata didn't do anything "man behind the curtain" in social media. He is no Karl Rove of facebook. He just provided information to a large base of people who knew their stuff and felt impassioned.

    As for being "meaner" -- one thing is clear. There is no one in social media more dismissive and backhanded toward Chicago teachers and the union that democratically represents them than the author of this blog.

  • In reply to Nate Goldbaum:

    Right on Nate!

  • "I went to one of their "community dialogues" earlier this year and they were able to bring fewer community members supporting their positions than CTU was able to bring educators and supporters opposing them."

    Well, yeah. 29000 jobs at stake is a huge motivator that simply doesn't have an equivalent on the reformer side. How situational excitement and generic feelings of teacher supports translates into votes is an interesting question at this point.

    What drives many democrats to not support the fundamental interests of the CTU may remain unchanged. But there's hope. If Rauner keeps talking in the press, most Chicago democrats may become ashamed to be associated with school reformers.

    Rahm lays low, but the worst spokesman possible steps in to fill the void. Ouch.

    Ironic to have Rauner representing reformers just at the moment Romney's "47%'ers" comments become big news. Now were back to the "good teacher/bad teacher" simplicity that doesn't contribute to productive dialogue among sincere people wanting better schools.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Bruce Rauner is a Repubican. Bruce will probably run as a Republican candidate in the next governors race.

  • Rauner was strangely sounding like a die-hard Marxist, claiming that everyone disagreeing with him is being fooled by an evil deceiver (the teachers' union). Besides the obvious arrogance and condescension of saying that parents, "good teachers", etc. are dupes, at some point the "reformers" logic has to come face to face with the political reality that the union must be involved in any serious attempt to improve schooling. It couldn't be any clearer that by destroying trying to disenfranchise the union Rauner and co. disempowered and alienated all of the teachers. We weren't fooled and there is no reason to believe that when the union is destroyed we will be grateful to Rauner. Not even the "good teachers".

    Secondly, Rauner should have been asked to pledge not to make any profit in any way from public education. I think he was flat out lying when he denied he was in it for money, given his ownership stakes in charter school companies, his investments in charter school bonds, and his proposal to buy and sell vacant Chicago Public School buildings.

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