Middle Managers and the Schools
January 29, 2002
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By RACHEL P. KOVNER
The bureaucracy-bashing author?
New York City's Board of Education, which last year employed more than 3,100 in its central administration, as well as 6,977 in community school district administration, 4,031 in high school administration, 1,617 in special education administration and 1,747 at the Board of Education's Brooklyn Headquarters. (The board does not publish a breakdown of which of those non-teaching posts were "middle management.")
Vicky Bernstein, who oversees the New York City Teaching Fellows program touted in the campaign, said the ads weren't meant as career-choice criticism. While it's too early to measure results, Ms. Bernstein said the teaching fellows program has seen a surge in interest since the ads began running in the New York Times and other publications on Dec. 30 and in subways this month.
"There are some people who are looking for a job that may have larger implications in life than what they may be doing now. That's for each individual to decide," said Ms. Bernstein. "We're not preaching that people have to change their lives."
But Manhattan Chamber of Commerce President Nancy Ploeger called the ads "unfair."
"There are many rewarding jobs, and one can be inspired by a middle manager as well. In defense of the business community, many middle managers have challenged their associates to think, to act, and to grow in their careers," she said. "And teachers inspire students to become middle managers!"
Ms. Ploeger's alternative slogan might need a little tweaking before it takes off -- she suggests, "Middle managers in the private sector go back after 10 years to thank their teachers."
The $375,000 advertising campaign, intended to recruit career-changers without teaching certification, was designed by the advertising firm TBWA Chiat/Day, creators of the Taco Bell Chihuahua and Apple's "Think Different" campaign.
Darkness: An editorial in today's New York Times begins, "Sunshine, the Watergate-era rallying cry proclaimed, is the best disinfectant. It is a credo that, 30 years later, is more relevant than ever." In fact the phrase is widely attributed not to the Watergate era but to Justice Louis D. Brandeis, who said it in 1933. A Web search finds some variations on the phrase: "A little sunlight is the best disinfectant"; "Sunlight is said to be the best disinfectant: electric light the most efficient policeman"; "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman." But they are nearly uniformly attributed to Brandeis, who died in 1941, decades before Watergate. If the Times had referred to it as a "Depression-era rallying cry," it might have taken some of the wind out of the paper's Enron editorial.
Missing Question: Today's New York Times carries on its front page, above the fold, an interview with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. The Times apparently didn't see fit to ask Abdullah to expand on his comment that "The people of the kingdom have not been affected by what certain newspapers publish and you know who is behind this media." The Times might have asked, "What newspapers are you talking about and who are you saying is behind them? And why won't you say so directly instead of referring to 'you know who'"? The Abdullah quote indicating a belief in a bizarre anti-Semitic conspiracy theory was buried in an inside news feature article in Monday's paper; today's interview in which Abdullah makes nice to America gets more prominent placement.
Losing Clients: A headline in the business section of today's New York Times blares: "Andersen Says It Is Losing Clients." The article names not a single client that has dropped Arthur Andersen.
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